Asia stocks fall amid caution before UK election

Most Asian markets were down, including Japan.
Most Asian markets were down, including Japan.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Asian shares fell, poised for the first decline in four sessions, as equities retreated from recent record highs amid a dearth of news ahead of the United Kingdom general election and testimony from the former head of the FBI later in the week.

The benchmark Straits Times Index in Singapore slid 0.08 per cent or 2.56 points to end at 3,235.75.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index dropped 0.2 per cent to 155.08 as of 4:42pm in Hong Kong, led by health care and energy stocks.

Tokyo ended 1 per cent down on a stronger yen and profit-taking after hitting near two-year highs last Friday. Sydney shed 1.5 per cent and Taiwan, Manila and Jakarta were also all down. But Hong Kong edged up 0.4 per cent in the afternoon and Shanghai closed 0.3 per cent higher.

Hong Kong shares touched 26,000 for the first time since July 2015 before closing just short of the level. Eight out of 10 of the Hang Seng Index's top performers were developers, with New World Development climbing 7.4 per cent.

British voters cast their ballots on June 8 after Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election seven weeks ago. The incumbent Conservative Party has seen its lead in the polls shrink as three deadly terrorist attacks since March weigh on voters. Separately, US President Donald Trump won't invoke executive privilege to stop former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey from testifying to the Senate on Thursday.

"Asian markets could find little to draw inspiration from," said Ms Pan Jingyi, a Singapore-based analyst at IG Asia. "The holding pattern for markets could certainly retain slightly longer towards the action-packed Thursday."