Nikkei Asia300 Index slips on caution after Trump fires Comey
HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian stocks edged lower Wednesday as caution reigned after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly dismissed the nation's top law enforcement official and as investors took profits in South Korean shares following presidential elections.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index shed 0.1% or 1.8 points to 1,205.04. Philippines's Cebu Air fell 6.1%, leading losses on the 316-stock gauge, after reporting a 68% plunge in March quarter net income.
Trump on Tuesday unexpectedly fired Federal Bureau of Investigation's Director James Comey, a move that came amid an ongoing probe into the president's 2016 election campaign. The dollar index, measured against six major currencies, was last down 0.1% and U.S. stock futures pointed to a weak opening on Wall Street. Earlier this week, the S&P 500 Index rose to fresh record highs and Chicago Board of Trade's VIX volatility index, or the "fear gauge" slumped to 24-year lows.
"All in all, this does not support the view that the U.S. Trumpflation trade faces an easy road ahead of it; and it underlines that real surprises can pop up out of the box at any time right now," Rabobank wrote in a note. "Both facts make a mockery of a 1993 level VIX."
The country index for South Korea fell 1.5% on profit taking after liberal candidate Moon Jae-in won presidential elections months after his predecessor Park Geun-hye was ousted amid corruption charges. The gauge had added almost 6% in the two weeks ahead of elections. The nation's benchmark Kospi index ended 1% lower after scaling a record high intraday.
Taiwan's gauge squeezed out a 0.1% advance to end at 1,334.30. HTC surged 10% following a 7.2% plunge Tuesday. The cellphone maker reported a T$2 billion ($66 million) first-quarter net loss this week.
The Nikkei Asia300 China Index added 0.6% despite data showing a moderation in producer prices last month. Consumer prices rose slightly ahead of expectations.
Hong Kong's gauge added 0.2%.
Markets in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand were closed Wednesday for a public holiday.
The country gauges for Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam fell. Indonesian markets are closed on Thursday.
India's index advanced 0.4% to 1,182.48. Bharti Airtel surged 7.9% despite reporting declines in fourth-quarter net profit and revenue. The mobile operator's net additions to mobile services stood at 7.8 million during the quarter. Money markets in India were closed Wednesday.
--Nimesh Vora and V. Phani Kumar
--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.