HONG KONG (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks fell Monday, as the failure of U.S. President Donald Trump's healthcare bill fuelled concerns about the rest of his economic agenda, turning investors risk averse.
The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 0.5% or 6.2 points to 1,165.21. Heavyweight Chinese lenders, India's Reliance Industries and mainland property developers contributed heavily to losses on the 316-stock gauge. AirAsia and SK Hynix rose.
The Japanese yen rose more than 1% against the greenback as investors flocked to safety after Trump scrapped a vote on a healthcare bill which proposed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act following stiff opposition from Democrats and Republicans.
"An inability to approve the American Healthcare Act raises concerns about the prospects of far more important fiscal stimulus," Rabobank said in a note.
Hopes of massive tax reforms and big boosts to infrastructure spending have driven U.S. indexes to record highs in recent weeks, sparking gains across global equity markets as well. The Nikkei Asia300 Index has risen more than 10% since its launch on Dec. 1. However, the S&P 500 fell 1.4% last week to chalk its worst weekly performance since before Trump won elections in November, as the healthcare bill faced criticism in the House of Representatives. This "could be just the beginning of a deeper correction."
The country index for China fell 0.8% to 1,108.5. The nation's four largest lenders Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank (CCB), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) and Bank of China (BOC), due to announce results this week, fell at least 0.5%.
South Korea's index fell 0.7% to 1,280.55. Hyundai Motor fell 1.4%. The carmaker has suspended production at a fourth China factory for a week starting March 24, online media ChosunBiz reported. Memory chip maker SK Hynix rose 2.4%.
Taiwan's gauge eked out a 0.03% advance to 1,283.72 points.
Malaysia's index ended little changed at 1,028.78. AirAsia shares jumped 3.5% for their best day in over a month. South Korea's KOTAM or Korea Transportation Asset Management is in talks to buy a stake in the carrier's aircraft leasing unit in a deal which could value the unit at $900 million, Reuters reported Friday, citing three people familiar with the matter.
Neighboring city-state Singapore's gauge fell 0.5% to 1,084.77. In the rest of Southeast Asia, Indonesia's index shed 0.7%, the country gauge for the Philippines fell 0.3% and the Nikkei Asia300 Thailand index edged 0.2% lower to 1,239.63.
The Nikkei Asia300 India index fell 0.4% to 1,144.98. Reliance Industries slumped 2.9%, its worst single-session performance in more than two months, after the capital markets regulator barred it from trading in derivatives for a year and imposed a fine of 4.5 billion rupees ($69 million) for wrongful share trading.
Metal producers Tata Steel, Hindalco Industries and Vedanta fell more than 2% each.
Software services exporters Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys fell 0.6% and 0.3% as the rupee traded at more than a year's high. Wipro, the nation's third-largest information technology firm, slid 1.8%.
--V. Phani Kumar and Nimesh Vora