Asia Down as Japan, Korea Lead Losses

Stocks in Japan and South Korea led losses in major Asia-Pacific markets on Friday as the recent rally in U.S. stocks broke momentum with the NASDAQ snapping a three-day winning streak.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 plunged 364.85 points, or 1.3%, to 28,124.28.

Autos and tech stocks declined. SoftBank was down 1.2%, while Sony lost nearly 2%.

The Japanese yen traded at 113.81 per U.S. dollar, strengthening markedly from levels above 114.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong dipped 46.45 points, or 0.2%, to 24,387.32, as Alibaba declined 2.5% and JD fell 2.9%.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s central bank raised its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 1.25%, the highest since March 2020 and back to the rate it was at before the pandemic.

In corporate news in the region, Citi is set to sell its retail businesses in four Southeast Asian countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam — to Singapore lender United Overseas Bank (UOB). UOB said Citi’s consumer business had a total net asset value of about $4 billion Singapore dollars ($2.9 billion U.S.).

The cash offer for the proposed acquisition will be calculated based on an aggregate premium equivalent to $915 million Singapore dollars, plus the net asset value of Citi’s consumer business.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7280, strengthening slightly.


In China, the CSI 300 dropped 39.13 points, or 0.8%, to 4,726.73.

China’s exports grew slightly more than expected in December, while imports rose less than expected, according to customs data released Friday.

Exports rose by 20.9% year-on-year in U.S. dollar-terms, above the 20% increase forecast by a Reuters poll. Imports grew by 19.5% in U.S. dollar-terms, missing expectations of a 26.3% increase.

Overall, in 2021, total exports rose 29.9%, compared to a 3.6% gain in 2020. Imports jumped 30.1% in 2021, after dropping 1.1% in 2020

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index slipped 40.17 points, or 1.4%, to 2,921.92.

In Taiwan, the Taiex index let go of 33.6 points, or 0.2%, to 18,403.33

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index moved higher 24.67 points, or 0.8%, to 3,281.97.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 dropped 36.83 points, or 0.3%, to 12,790.16.

In Australia, the ASX 200 fell 80.5 points, or 1.1%, at 7,393.86