Japan’s Nikkei hits 4-week low as tech shares track sell-off in U.S. peers

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TOKYO — Japan’s Nikkei share average touched a four-week low on Wednesday, tracking a tech-led sell-off on Wall Street overnight, although gains in auto stocks helped cap losses.

The Nikkei ended the day 0.72% lower at 27,686.40, after earlier dipping to 27,646.78 for the first time since Nov. 10.

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Chipmaking equipment company Tokyo Electron was both the biggest percentage and points decliner, with its 3.78% decline shaving 60 points off the Nikkei.

Rival Advantest slid 1.47%.

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This was after the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index dropped 2.36% overnight. The Nasdaq led declines among the major Wall Street indexes, falling 2%, compared with a 1.44% drop in the S&P 500.

An overnight slump in crude oil weighed on energy shares, making them the worst performers among the Nikkei subsectors with a 1.29% decline. Inpex led losses, dropping 1.62%.

Tech was the other big loser, down 0.72%.

Nintendo, however, flipped from early losses to close 0.33% higher after the head of Microsoft’s gaming division tweeted that the Japanese company had entered a 10-year commitment to bring the “Call of Duty” game title to its platforms.

Winners and losers were evenly split on the benchmark index, with 108 of the Nikkei’s 225 components rising versus 109 that fell, with eight flat.

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The broader Topix ended the day 0.1% lower at 1,948.31, after earlier slumping to a four-week low of 1,938.30.

Technical indicators pointed to further weakness for the Nikkei, as its finish below the Feb. 10 close at 27,696 led the 200-day moving average to turn lower for the first time in about a month, according to Kazuo Kamitani, an equity strategist at Nomura in Tokyo.

“With an absence of strong trading cues, we need to look at technical indicators,” Kamitani said.

Automakers gained as the yen stabilized near 137 per dollar, retreating from its strongest level since mid-August last week, bolstering the value of overseas revenue.

Mazda rose 1.9%, Honda added 0.76% and Toyota advanced 0.44%. (Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Vinay Dwivedi)

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