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Stocks

Tech companies lead Nikkei Asia300 lower after Nasdaq slide

Heavyweights Samsung Electronics, Tencent Holdings shed more than 3%

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan slumped Thursday, as regional technology companies fell, tracking an overnight selloff in their U.S. counterparts.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index declined 1.5% to 1,381.03. South Korea's Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, the world's biggest memory chipmakers, dropped 3.4% and 6.8% respectively. Hong Kong-listed social media major Tencent shed 3.3% and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. lost 3.6%. Samsung, Tencent and TSMC are among the heaviest weighted stocks on the Asia300 Index. U.S.-listed Alibaba Group Holding and Baidu dropped at least 3.5% in overnight trading.

The selloff came after the technology-stock dominated Nasdaq Composite suffered its worst session in more than two-weeks. Analysts said the fall was largely due to investors switching their portfolios to financial stocks from technology firms. The S&P 500 Financials Index rallied 1.8% overnight on bets that U.S. interest rates were set to rise further.

U.S. borrowing costs climbed Wednesday after the world's largest economy expanded at a quicker-than-expected pace in the third quarter. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's upbeat comments on the economy and job market also contributed to the rise in bond yields. The U.S. 10-year bond yield hit two-week highs overnight while at the shorter-end, two-year borrowing cost hovered near multi-year highs.

In economic news out of Asia, South Korea's central bank raised interest rates by 25 basis points to 1.50% as expected. The official gauge of China's factory activity rose to 51.8 in November from 51.6 in previous month, ahead of expectations. The non-manufacturing official index increased to 54.8 from 54.3.

In Kuala Lumpur, Sime Darby resumed trading on Thursday following the demerger of its plantation and property units. The stock closed at 2.35 ringgit as compared with its adjusted post-spin off reference price of 1.85 ringgit. Sime Darby Plantation closed at 5.01 ringgit on its debut as against the reference price of 5.53 ringgit and Sime Darby Property ended at 1.20 ringgit against the 1.50 ringgit reference price.

Malayan Banking, Malaysia's largest lender by assets, rose by 0.5% after reporting that third-quarter net profit rose 13%, thanks largely to higher net interest income. Hong Leong Financial Group added 2.7% after first-quarter net profit rose by 18%, helped by stronger contribution from commercial banking and insurance businesses.

Airports of Thailand ended unchanged. The manager of international airports reported a 7% increase in net profit for the financial year ended September 30.

Bank of East Asia, the third largest bank in Hong Kong, added 3% after saying it will sell equity interests and loan portfolio of its China and Hong Kong consumer finance business to China Financial Services for HK$1.08 billion ($138 million). The H-shares of China Financial Services rose 2.8%.

In country indexes compiled by Nikkei, China declined 2% and Hong Kong dropped 1.7%. South Korea lost 1.2%, Taiwan shed 2.5% and India slumped 1.1%.

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies closed down 0.3%.

--Nimesh Vora

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