HONG KONG, March 20 (BSS/AFP) - Asian markets slipped today
as dealers looked for a foothold to spur buying despite a
positive lead from Wall Street.
Sydney was 0.37 percent lower, giving up 15.8 points to
4,275.0, Hong Kong slipped 1.08 percent, or 227.05 points, to
20,888.24 and Seoul lost 0.24 percent, or 4.85 points, to
Shanghai ended 1.38 percent lower, giving up 33.34 points to
"Across Asia, markets are weaker despite a fairly positive
lead from US trade," said Melbourne-based Stan Shamu, Market
Strategist at IG Markets, in a note.
"Markets are just looking tired at these levels and in the
absence of a catalyst it seems investors are happy to remain on
the sidelines," Shamu said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
With few pointers, investors took a breather from a rally
that has seen most markets rise between 10 and 20 percent since
the start of 2012 thanks to upbeat data from the United States
and easing fears over Europe's debt crisis.
Wall Street provided a positive cue after Apple said it would
use some of its $98 billion cash stockpile to pay its first
quarterly dividend since 1995 -- $2.65 per share -- and buy back
$10 billion of shares.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.75 percent, the Dow
added 0.05 percent and the broad S&P 500 gained 0.40 percent.
Adding to Apple's lustre was its announcement that it sold a
record three million new iPads, which launched globally on
However, Apple-linked Asian shares were mixed despite the
In Seoul LG Display rose 0.86 percent and Hynix Semiconductor
added 0.51 percent and LG Innotek dropped 1.2 percent.
Energy firms continued to prove attractive on the back of
still-high crude costs, which have been driven by the ongoing row
between Tehran and the West over the Islamic republic's nuclear
Iran at the weekend refused to budge over the issue, saying
the programme was for civilian purposes and denying US claims it
is trying to build an atomic bomb.
The Middle Eastern country has refused to shut off a key oil
route if Washington and Europe hit it with more sanctions,
stoking fears over supply.
While the two main contracts eased slightly Tuesday -- owing
to oil giant Saudi Arabia saying it would help stabilise prices -
- they are still close to multi-year highs.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for
delivery in April, shed 62 cents to $107.47 per barrel while
Brent North Sea crude for May was down 52 cents at $125.19 in the
In Sydney, Woodside Petroleum rose 1.2 percent and Origin
Energy gained 0.4 percent, while in Seoul S-Oil climbed three
percent and SK Innovation advanced 2.95 percent.
On currency markets the euro and dollar held up against the
yen, pushing back after the Japanese unit's surge in recent years
that was caused by global economic uncertainty.
In late afternoon trade the euro was at $1.3216, compared
with $1.3239 late Monday in New York, and at 110.41 yen compared
with 110.35 yen. The dollar was at 83.56 yen, from 83.35 yen.
Gold was at $1,649.45 an ounce at 0815 GMT, compared with
$1,653.64 late Monday.
In other markets:
-- Taipei fell 0.89 percent, or 71.22 points, to 7,972.70.
Leading smartphone maker HTC lost 1.61 percent to end at
Tw$610.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.60
percent lower at Tw$83.2.
-- Manila ended 0.48 percent, or 24.76 points, lower at
Philippine Long Distance Telephone fell 0.8 percent to 2,664
pesos and San Miguel Corp. shed 0.08 percent to 114.90 pesos.
-- Wellington was flat, edging up 1.04 points to 3,487.01.
Fletcher Building was up 2.06 percent at NZ$6.92, Contact
Energy slipped 2.1 percent to NZ$4.48 and retailer The Warehouse
Group was unchanged on NZ$2.75.