By Ese Erheriene
Global investors showed caution Thursday, as a weaker U.S. dollar and profit-taking sent major Asian stock indexes lower, despite a strong overnight lead from Wall Street.
Following a surge in regional equities Wednesday, appetite for risk cooled amid currency headwinds and broader global political uncertainty. The moves reflect a pattern of choppy trading in recent weeks.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +2.50% closed down 0.6% at 19,234.62, hitting a six-day low earlier in the session at 19,173.53 points. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +1.26% finished 0.2% lower, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.39% fell 0.3% and Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.58% ended flat.
“A week-long ‘Trump rally’ has possibly to come to an end,” said Jane Fu, a sales trader at CMC Markets.
Overnight in the U.S., the S&P 500 ended down 0.1%, capping its longest run of gains since 2013, after a week that saw the major U.S. indexes hit successive new highs. The Nasdaq Composite also fell 0.1%, though the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up less than 0.1% to a fresh high.
In Japan, real estate, energy, and auto stocks led the declines. Major property developer Mitsui Fudosan /zigman2/quotes/205394574/delayed JP:8801 +2.71% fell 3%, oil explorer Inpex /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 +2.26% lost 1% and Suzuki Motor /zigman2/quotes/201794956/delayed JP:7269 +1.80% fell 1.8%.
In Korea, Samsung Electronics /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 +0.30% shares fell after a court approved an arrest warrant for Lee Jae-yong, the company’s vice chairman and de facto leader of the Samsung conglomerate, as part of a wider corruption scandal that saw the country’s president impeached. The stock, which has the largest weighting on Korea’s benchmark Kospi index, was last down 1.5%.
Elsewhere, Singapore’s economy expanded 12.3% from the previous quarter on a seasonally adjusted and annualized basis in the October-to-December period, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement Friday. That was a faster pace of expansion than an initial estimate of 9.1%, helping push growth for the year to 2.0%, well above the 1.5% upper range of a government forecast for 2016.
Singapore’s Strait Times Index /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI +1.50% rose 0.3%.