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Equities

Tech stocks pull Nikkei Asia300 Index lower after Wall Street selloff

Samsung and Tencent drag gauge, while CCB and ICBC also retreat

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan tumbled on Wednesday, as a late selloff for U.S. technology companies spilled over into the region. Two of China's biggest lenders declined despite posting better-than-expected earnings.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index fell 1.7% to 1,413.98. Index heavyweights Samsung Electronics and Tencent Holdings declined 2.6% and 4.6%, respectively, leading losses for the tech sector. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. dropped 2.4% and Hon Hai Precision Industry declined 1.2%. China Construction Bank (CCB) and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) lost 2.7% and 1.6%, respectively, after reporting 2017 net profit that beat analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Wall Street resumed losses on Tuesday after logging their best day in over a year on Monday. Technology shares drove the losses amid concern the sector may be subjected to stricter regulations following a data privacy incident at Facebook. The Nasdaq Composite tumbled almost 3% overnight, weighed down by the social media company, which is on course for their worst monthly decline since August 2012.

A Bloomberg report that Washington is mulling curbs on Chinese investment in technology that it considers sensitive added to the risk off tone.

"The uncertainty over U.S. protectionism isn't going to fade anytime soon," said Stephen Innes, head trading of Asia Pacific Oanda. He added that with "the U.S. President considering passing emergency law to restrict China takeovers of tech companies," investors need to be prepared for more volatility over the coming days.

Hong Kong-shares of Air China declined 7% after it reported a 6.3% increase in net profit for year ended Dec. 31, lower than the estimates of analysts polled by Reuters. Electric vehicle maker BYD tumbled 10.5% after reporting a 19.4% drop in net profit for the same period. China Mengniu Dairy climbed 3.1% after the company swung to a net profit last year following a loss in 2016.

Fosun International fell 2%, in line with losses on the broader market. The Chinese conglomerate on Tuesday reported a 28.1% increase in net profit for last year.

Meanwhile, data showed South Korea's fourth quarter gross domestic product increased 2.8%, in line with estimates. The Bank of Thailand held policy rates unchanged at 1.5%, as expected.

In country indexes complied by Nikkei, China fell 3%, Hong Kong lost 2.2% and Taiwan declined 1.5%. India's dropped 0.9% and that for South Korea shed 0.5%.

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies ended 1.1% lower.

- Nimesh Vora

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