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June 14, 2018, 6:59 a.m. EDT

Asian stocks swing lower after Fed rate hike

Business activity in China slows in May

By Dow Jones Newswire

Bloomberg News
Korean construction stocks were particularly hard hit Thursday.

Asian stock markets finished lower Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve indicated two more rate hikes are coming later this year, and as Chinese economic data missed expectations.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HONG:HK:HSI)  fell 0.9%. The Shanghai Composite (SHG:CN:SHCOMP) lost 0.2% and the Shenzhen Composite (SHENHZEN:CN:399106)  dropped 0.6%. The startup-heavy ChiNext dropped 0.8% to set another four-month closing low. It’s fallen 13 of the past 16 trading days.

While the regional market was colored by selling after Wednesday’s hawkish Fed comments sent U.S. stocks sliding late, also overhanging in China was soft May economic data, including industrial output and retail sales, and looming U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. Financial stocks, though, rose as the People’s Bank of China didn’t raise interest rates following the Fed’s move, raising the prospects of a reserve-requirement cut soon.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday lifted its benchmark federal funds rate by a quarter-percentage point — to a range of 1.75% to 2%, meeting expectations. The Fed also signaled that it plans a total of four rate increases in 2018 instead of three as previously planned. Wednesday’s hike was the second this year.

Japan’s Nikkei (NIKKEI:JP:NIK)  ended 0.9% lower. But Toshiba (TKS:JP:6502)   rose 2.7% , extending Wednesday’s 6.6% jump on the conglomerate’s plan to buy back more than $6 billion worth of shares.

Read: Toshiba plans biggest Japanese market buyback on record

South Korean stocks lagged behind after Wednesday’s trading day off for local elections. The Kospi (KOREA:KR:180721)   declined 1.8%. Construction names, which have surged since late April amid a Korean Peninsula thaw, continued the pullback seen during Tuesday’s Trump-Kim summit. Hyundai Engineering (KRX:KR:000720)   sank 8.6% while construction-materials maker Busan Industrial (KRX:KR:011390)   slid 16%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (S&P:AU:XJO)  shed 0.1%. Singapore’s benchmark (SES:SG:STI)  gave up 1.1% and Taiwan’s benchmark  fell 1.4%.

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