TOKYO – Asian shares declined on Wednesday after a sell-off of big technology stocks on Wall Street pulled U.S. benchmarks lower. Crude oil prices and Treasury yields also weakened.
Australia’s benchmark led regional declines on Wednesday, losing more than 2%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.6%.
Troubles with Astra-Zeneca’s coronavirus vaccine trial and simmering China-U.S. tensions also have rattled investors.
“At a minimum, the optimism balloon floated by vaccine hopes has sprung a sizable leak," Stephen Innes of AxiCorp. said in a commentary.
Talk by President Donald Trump of “decoupling” the U.S. economy from China, as the presidential campaign heats up has ramped up uncertainty as Washington seeks to limit use of U.S. technology by Chinese companies, citing national security concerns.
The relationship between the world’s two largest economies has been on edge for years, and the antagonism threatens to further undermine global growth at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has pushed many countries into recession.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 1.6% to 22,904.31 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 1% to 24,390.21. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 tumbled 2.3% to 5,872.10 and the Shanghai Composite index shed 1.4% to 3,271.79. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.7% to 2,834.59.
Among big losers in the technology sector were SoftBank Group Corp., which fell 5.%, Alibaba Group Holding, whose shares fell 2.5% in Hong Kong and semiconductor maker SMIC. which lost 2.7%.