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Stock markets tumble on tech sell-off, dollar sags



TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stock markets skidded on Tuesday, extending sharp losses on Wall Street as technology firms bore the brunt of worries about slackening demand, while the dollar sagged after weak U.S. data further sapped confidence in the currency.

A man looks at a stock quotation board showing share prices of Nissan Motor Co (top) and Mitsubishi Motors outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.9 percent.

The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 1 percent, Australian stocks lost 0.9 percent and tech-heavy South Korean shares dropped 0.8 percent.

In Seoul, Samsung Electronics fell 1.8 percent and SK Hynix Inc dropped 2.8 percent, while Japan’s Tokyo Electron was down 1.4 percent, Advantest lost 1.2 percent and Sony Corp shed 2.6 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.9 percent. Shares of Nissan Motor Co tumbled 4.3 percent after its Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested on Monday for alleged financial misconduct and will be fired from the board this week.

“By under-reporting his corporate salary, he basically deprived Nissan’s shareholders of opportunities to judge if the amount of his salary was appropriate,” said Toru Ibayashi, executive director of Wealth Management at UBS Securities Japan.”This incident will make investors review if Japanese corporate governance is working.”

U.S. stocks came under heavy selling on Monday, with Nasdaq tumbling 3 percent, as investors dumped Apple, internet and other technology shares. Conflicting signals between the United States and China on their trade dispute added to caution. [.N]

“The drop by U.S. stocks will cut short any attempt by equity markets to mount a sustained bounce. Investor sentiment has been subdued by lingering weakness in U.S. technology shares,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo.

Worries of a peak in corporate earnings growth amid rising borrowing costs, slowing global economic momentum and international trade tensions triggered a shakeout in stocks over the past two months, with trillions of dollars wiped off equities in a particularly torrid October month.

In currencies, the dollar struggled at a near two-week low against a basket of currencies.

The greenback was hit after data released on Monday showed U.S. home builder sentiment recorded its steepest one-month drop in over 4-1/2 years in November.

The dollar had also been weighed down after Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan late last week raised concerns over a potential global slowdown.

The U.S. currency has rallied strongly this year, buoyed by three Fed rate hikes and a robust economy, though some expect the bull run may be nearing an end.

With long-term U.S. Treasury yields slipping to a seven-week low of 3.052 percent in the wake of weaker stocks and U.S. housing data, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies hovered near 96.120, an 11-day low plumbed on Monday.

The euro was little changed at $1.1448 after gaining 0.35 percent overnight.

The dollar slipped to a three-week low of 112.40 yen and last traded at 112.58.

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The Australian dollar, sensitive to shifts in risk sentiment, was steady at $0.7294 after losing 0.5 percent the previous day.

Crude oil ran out of steam after gaining the previous day on reported drawdown of U.S. oil inventories, potential European Union sanctions on Iran and possible OPEC production cuts.

U.S. crude futures were flat at $57.20 per barrel and Brent slipped 0.1 percent to $66.72 per barrel. [O/R]

Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by Shri Navaratnam