Nikkei Asia300 Index falls as oil, China regulatory woes weigh
SINGAPORE (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks fell for a third straight day on Wednesday, as a downturn in crude oil prices undercut energy producers, and concerns about tighter regulations remained a drag on Chinese shares.
Lingering geopolitical worries over North Korea continued to keep investors on edge.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 0.7% to 1,151.95. China Eastern Airlines slumped 4.8%, leading losses on the 316-stock gauge in percentage terms. China Southern Airlines fell 3.6%. Both the stocks were reportedly downgraded by Morgan Stanley on Tuesday. PetroChina and China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) were the big contributors to the losses, falling at least 1.2%, as U.S. crude oil prices headed lower for a third day. Samsung Electronics lost 1.5%, its fourth day of declines.
Caution ahead of French presidential elections this weekend also weighed on sentiment. Investors are nervous about a possible victory for Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader of the National Front, who wants to pull France out of the European Union if she wins. British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday called a snap general election in June as negotiations for Britain's exit from the EU get underway. The pound sterling jumped more than 2% against the dollar after the announcement.
Indexes on Wall Street had ended lower on Tuesday, weighed down by a 4.7% decline in Goldman Sachs after its earnings missed expectations. U.S. Treasury yields fell to five-month lows on Tuesday.
Singapore's gauge fell 0.4% to 1,081.77, led by losses in lenders. DBS Group Holdings fell 0.7% and United Overseas Bank dropped 0.3% as falling long-term bond yields tend to flatten the U.S. yield curve, hurting net interest margins at the city-state's lenders.
The country index for China slipped 0.1%, while Hong Kong's gauge shed 1% to 1,083.40. Mainland equities have come under pressure since China's securities regulator urged tighter supervision of listed companies over the weekend. The nation's benchmark Shanghai Composite has shed 2.3% this week, despite better-than-expected economic data for the first quarter.
Stocks that soared after Beijing announced plans for a new economic zone in Hebei province continued to show signs of fatigue, with Anhui Conch Cement shedding 0.5%. On Friday, the Shanghai exchanged reportedly said it will pay special attention to excessive speculation in stocks related to the Xiongan concept, warning investors that speculative rallies are usually followed by quick declines.
Want Want China Holdings fell 3%, giving up Tuesday's 1.5% advance.
The Nikkei Asia300 South Korea Index slid 1.3%. Overseas investors sold 236.6 billion won ($207.64 million) in local shares on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
In Southeast Asia, country gauges for Indonesia and Vietnam added 0.6% and 0.2%, respectively, while Thailand's index fell 1.1% and Philippines' gauge slumped 1.4%. The Nikkei Asia300 India Index edged 0.1% lower to 1,156.22.
--Kevin Lim and Nimesh Vora
--Nikkei Markets is a real-time financial news service for South East Asia's markets published by Nikkei NewsRise Asia Pte Ltd, a Nikkei and NewsRise joint venture company. Nikkei Markets provides wide companies coverage in the region, including the Nikkei's Asia300 companies.