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Asia-Pacific Markets Mixed as Hong Kong Tech Shares Sell Off, Oil Prices Decline Further

Toru Hanai | Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Thursday, following overnight losses on Wall Street, as shares in Japan, Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland struggled for gains.
  • Some of the major tech names listed in Hong Kong, including Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent declined sharply.
  • Oil prices extended losses on Thursday during Asian trading hours: Brent crude futures fell 0.86% to $79.59 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped 1.33% to $77.32.

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Thursday, following overnight losses on Wall Street, as shares in Japan, Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland struggled for gains.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 1.29% to 25,319.72 while the Nasdaq-style technology board, Hang Seng tech index, sold off nearly 3%.

Some of the major tech names listed in Hong Kong declined sharply: Alibaba was down 5.34%, Meituan fell 2.46%, JD was down 3.58%, Tencent declined 2.4% and Baidu fell 7.84%.

A day earlier, Baidu reported third-quarter revenue above market expectations. But the company warned that ad spending had been affected by a slowdown in China's economic growth. Baidu makes most of its revenue from advertising.

Chinese mainland shares also traded lower: The Shanghai composite declined 0.47% to 3,520.71 while the Shenzhen component fell 0.9% to 14,579.17.

Shares in India traded lower, with the Nifty 50 down 0.58% and the Sensex off by 0.58% in afternoon trade. Digital payments giant Paytm made its stock market debut on Thursday, following India's biggest initial public offering to-date.

But investors were not impressed — the stock was down more than 22% as of 4:15 p.m. HK/SIN, after earlier declining by 24%.

In South Korea, the Kospi fell 0.51% to 2,947.38, after wavering between gains and losses earlier in the session. The Kosdaq rose 0.15% to 1,032.77.

Japanese shares extended losses from the previous session. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index declined 0.3% to 29,598.66 while the Topix fell 0.14% to 2,035.52.

Australian shares bucked the generally downward trend as the ASX 200 rose 0.13% to 7,379.20. But the energy sector fell amid a sell-off in crude futures. Oil plays like Santos, Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum fell more than 1% each.

The country's so-called Big Four banks were also under pressure: Shares of ANZ closed down 1.29%, Commonwealth Bank declined 1.55%, Westpac lost 0.98% and the National Australia Bank was down 0.69%.

"Equities were soft overnight on inflation concerns, as UK inflation came in stronger than expected and supply constraints weighed on housing starts in the US," analysts at ANZ Research said in a morning note.

The U.K.'s Consumer Price Index rose by 4.2% in the 12 months to October, up from 3.1% in September and beating economists' expectations of 3.9%.

Wednesday's data is expected to add pressure on the Bank of England to act on interest rates at its December meeting. The central bank held rates steady in November, defying many investors' expectations that it would be the first major central bank to hike rates following the coronavirus pandemic.

Crude prices down

Oil prices declined in the previous session amid growing concerns about oversupply and a recovery in demand.

Price declined further Thursday during Asian trading hours. Brent crude futures fell 0.86% to $79.59 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped 1.33% to $77.32.

"The release of the weekly (U.S. Energy Information Administration) report showing a large fall in inventories did little to stop the selling," ANZ Research analysts wrote Thursday.

"This may be due to the bearish tone that both the IEA and OPEC set earlier this week in their monthly oil market reports. Both expect the market to move into surplus in the not too distant future," they added.

President Joe Biden's administration has also asked some of the world's largest oil-consuming countries to consider releasing some of their crude reserves to coordinate efforts to push prices lower and help with economic recovery, according to media reports.

Elsewhere, in the currency market, the U.S. dollar pulled back slightly against a basket of its peers, trading down 0.15% at 95.682 — the dollar index is currently trading near levels not seen in more than a year.

"A general sense of uncertainty hangs over markets as risks around inflation persist along with the impending announcement of the US Fed Chair," Venkateswaran Lavanya from Mizuho Bank said in a Thursday note.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 114.10 per dollar while the Australian dollar rose 0.21% to $0.7281.

CNBC's Matt Clinch contributed to this report.

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