Tech share plunge drags Asian stocks lower

A pedestrian walks in front of an electronics stock display in the window of a securities company in Tokyo
A pedestrian walks in front of an electronics stock display in the window of a securities company in TokyoPHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Asian shares fell on Thursday (Nov 30), weighed down by a plunge in high-flying technology shares, a move that some see as a healthy correction after a strong rally but others believe may herald the peak of a "super cycle" that has been boosting the sector.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.5 per cent, with technology bellwether Samsung Electronics falling 2.9 per cent to two-month lows.

Japan's Nikkei dipped 0.3 per cent, led by falls in Sony, Murata manufacturing and other technology shares.

Asia tech shares came under pressure after US hi-tech giants plummeted.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.27 per cent as investors shifted to financials and other sectors even as the S&P 500 was almost flat and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.44 per cent.

Shares of Amazon.com, Apple, Google parent Alphabet and Facebook fell between 2 per cent and 4 per cent. Among the year's other high fliers, Netflix slid 5.5 per cent.

Possibly weighing on them were concerns, sparked by a Morgan Stanley report earlier this week, that demand for NAND flash memory, a key component in various high-tech products, may have peaked.

But some market players said a correction in high-tech shares was not a surprise given their strong rally this year. The Nasdaq index is still up 26.8 per cent so far this year, more than 9 percentage points above gains in the S&P.

"A correction of this scale has happened many times in the past. Looking at the solid outlook of many high-tech companies and their decent valuations, I don't think it's time to worry," said Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities.

On the other hand, US bond yields rose across the maturities and the dollar gained some traction after the US the US Senate on Wednesday took a step toward passage of tax legislation that is a top White House priority, setting up a likely decisive vote later this week.

But it remained unclear if the bill has enough Republican support to become law.

The 10-year US Treasuries yield rose to 2.388 per cent, edging near this month's high of 2.414 percent.

There was no immediate market response after US President Donald Trump nominated Carnegie Mellon University professor Marvin Goodfriend, viewed as a policy hawk, to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

The euro traded at US$1.1851, steady in early Asian trade but has been on retreat since it had hit a two-month high of US$1.1961 on Monday.

The dollar also firmed to 112.00 yen from Monday's ten-week low of 110.85 yen.

The British pound held firm after hitting a two-month high of $1.3449 overnight after European Union diplomats said that Britain has moved "close" to EU demands over Brexit.

Sterling last traded at US$1.3414.

US crude futures traded flat at US$57.30 per barrel in early Asian trade.

Oil prices dipped on Wednesday in a volatile session buffeted by conflicting statements from oil ministers a day ahead of Opec's meeting in Vienna, as members debate the path for an extension of the group's supply-cut agreement.

While the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and key non-member Russia look set to prolong oil supply cuts until the end of 2018, they have signalled that they may review the deal when they meet again in June if the market overheats.