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Money News

Asian stocks slip after Wall Street selloff dents tech rally

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asia’s stock markets had their worst session in two weeks on Friday following a tech-led plunge on Wall Street, though gains in safer assets like bonds and dollars were muted as investors awaited U.S. job data to see if it triggers a bigger selloff.

FILE PHOTO: Passersby wearing protective face masks following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are reflected on a screen displaying stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 1.6% and looked set for a 2.4% weekly loss, its biggest since April.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 dropped 1%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI fell 1.8% and Australia's ASX 200 .AXJO 2.8%.

That was shallower than the 5% plunge on the tech-heavy Nasdaq .IXIC overnight or the S&P 500's 3.5% drop. Those were the steepest Wall Street losses since June, but traders said a correction was overdue given recent frothy gains.

“It was steady rather than panic selling throughout,” said ING’s regional head of research Rob Carnell.

“It just doesn’t sound or feel like anything other than a bit of profit taking...if this was a massive risk-off move, you’d have expected the dollar to rally, and it didn’t really.”

The focus is on U.S. payrolls figures due at 1230 GMT, which are seen as a possible selling trigger if it disappoints economists’ expectations that some 14 million jobs were created in August.

Futures traded under pressure but backed off early-session lows in Asia. Nasdaq 100 futures NQc1 were last down 1.3%, S&P 500 futures ESc1 were down 0.3%. Dow futures YMc1 were flat.

The dollar was steady, but a drop in the euro over last few days on talk that the European Central Bank is concerned about its strength had the greenback eying its best week in more than two months against a basket of currencies.

The euro EUR=EBS seems to have arrested its slide for now, and sat at $1.1852. The Antipodeans were under gentle pressure while the yen JPY=EBS was steady at 106.16 per dollar.

Bonds pared what was a pretty modest rise overnight, given the selloff in the equity market. Benchmark U.S. 10-year bond yields US10YT=RR rose 1.5 basis points on Friday, having fallen about 3 basis points overnight.

TECH TUMBLE

Thursday's tumble was the biggest one-day percentage drop on the tech-focused Nasdaq 100 .NDX since March and the darling stocks of recent months were hit hardest.

Apple AAPL.O fell 8%, Tesla TSLA.O 9% and Microsoft MSFT.O 6%. Still, the plunge only wound the Nasdaq .IXIC back as far as where it sat last Tuesday. It is still up 28% for the year so far and 73% higher than its March trough.

“No single factor sparked the sell-off,” said Kerry Craig, Global Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, citing more general worries the rally had run too far, too fast.

“However, this is unlikely to be a repeat of the tech wreck of the late 1990s, given how much the market and sector have changed,” he added.

Tech selling in Asia was limited. In South Korea Samsung 005930.KS fell 1.6% and there was modest pressure on Apple suppliers in Shanghai and Taipei. But falls in consumer staples and financials led losses on the Hong Kong and China bourses.

Australia's soaring consumer lender Afterpay APT.AX, which seems to track the tech sector, fell 5% and is set for its worst weekly percentage drop since March.

In commodity markets, the stronger dollar has kept pressure on prices. Oil was headed for a weekly loss amid worries about demand as the U.S. summer driving season draws to a close.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell 1% to $43.64 a barrel and U.S. crude CLc1 also fell 1% to 40.93 a barrel.

Gold XAU= drifted lower as equities sold off overnight but was last up 0.2% for the day at $1,934 an ounce.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore. Additional reporting by Alwyn Scott and Herbert Lash in New York; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill

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