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Asian Shares Fall As U.S. Tech Rout, Vaccine Worries Weigh

asiancommentary dec19 09sep20 lt

Asian stocks fell on Wednesday following an overnight rout in technology stocks on Wall Street. Worries that a highly anticipated coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by drug maker AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford could be delayed also weighed on the markets. AstraZeneca reportedly paused the vaccine trial following an adverse reaction in a trial participant.

Shares in China and Hong Kong closed lower after another strong round of selling in technology stocks on Wall Street. China's Shanghai Composite Index declined 61.79 points, or 1.9 percent, to close at 3,254.63, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 155.41 points, or 0.6 percent, to 24,468.93.

Japanese shares also declined, with the stronger safe-haven yen weighing on export stocks. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index slumped 241.59 points, or 1.0 percent, to 23,032.54, while the broader Topix lost 15.49 points, or 1.0 percent, to close at 1,605.40.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp. slipped 2.9 percent amid worries about its exposure to U.S. tech stocks, while Fast Retailing declined 1.1 percent. Sony dropped 1.9 percent.

The Australian market closed at a more than two-month low after two straight days of gains. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 129.20 points, or 2.2 percent, to close at 5,878.60, its lowest since June 29. The broader All Ordinaries Index tumbled 131.30 points, or 2.1 percent, to settle at 6,058.90.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search plunged 7.8 percent, Santos fell 5.4 percent and Woodside Petroleum lost 4.4 percent after crude oil prices fell to nearly three-month lows overnight.

Tech stocks followed their U.S. peers lower. Appen slumped 4.1 percent, WiseTech Global dropped 1.9 percent and Afterpay declined 1.3 percent.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals dipped 2.7 percent, BHP Group declined 1.7 percent and Rio Tinto edged down 0.2 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the value of owner-occupied home loans in Australia climbed a seasonally adjusted 10.7 percent on month in July, coming in at A$14.33 billion. That follows the 5.5 percent gain in June.

Seoul stocks also fell after two days of gains. The benchmark Kospi declined 26.10 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 2,375.81.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics dipped 0.5 percent and chipmaker SK Hynix dropped 2.6 percent.

New Zealand shares closed lower for the first time in three days. The benchmark NZX 50 Index dropped 156.52 points, or 1.3 percent, to finish at 11,739.11.

A2 Milk fell 2.4 percent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare slipped 0.6 percent.

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