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Asian Shares Retreat On Policy Tightening Fears

stockmarkets aug16 11jan22 lt

Asian stocks ended broadly lower on Tuesday amid continuing worries about the Omicron coronavirus and an earlier-than-expected U.S. interest rate hike.

Investors looked for clues to the timing of expected policy tightening when Fed Chair Powell makes his appearance before the Senate Banking Committee later in the day. Upcoming U.S. December consumer inflation data was also on investors' radar.

Chinese shares retreated as investors grappled with an uptick in Covidd-19 cases in the country. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 26.08 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,567.44, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index finished marginally lower at 23,739.06.

Japanese shares fell sharply on worries that the normalization of U.S. monetary policy might be brought forward to fight inflation. The Nikkei 225 Index slid 256.08 points, or 0.9 percent, to 28,222.48, while the broader Topix closed 0.4 percent lower at 1,986.82.

Nippon Paint Holdings shares plummeted 12.3 percent after the company said it will offer up to 203 billion yen ($1.8 billion) of its shares in an overseas sale.

Australian markets ended notably lower, with retailers underperforming as the country's Covid-19 infections hovered near record levels.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 57 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7390.10, extending losses for the second consecutive session. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 55.40 points, or 0.7 percent, at 7,710.70.

Supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles fell more than 2 percent each, while Wesfarmers declined 1.4 percent despite retail sales surging past forecasts for a second month in November.

Banks also fell broadly, with ANZ and Commonwealth losing 1.3 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. Higher bullion prices helped lift gold miners, with Evolution climbing 2.7 percent and Northern Star Resources adding 1.9 percent.

Seoul stocks fluctuated before finishing marginally higher ahead of the Fed chief's renomination hearing and U.S. inflation data. Investors also awaited the Bank of Korea's monetary policy decision this week for directional cues.

Chip giants Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix rose 1.2 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, while LG Chem climbed 3.4 percent.

South Korean exports jumped an annual 24.4 percent in the January 1-10 period, helped by strong demand for semiconductors, petrochemical goods and cars, data showed earlier in the day.

New Zealand shares declined, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index ending down 61.21 points, or 0.5 percent, at 12,831.73. Movie software maker Vista Group tumbled 3.5 percent.

U.S. stocks succumbed to an early sell-off before ending mixed overnight as rate hike bets lifted the 10-year Treasury yield to a two-year high.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled as much as 2.7 percent before finishing marginally higher as yields pulled back off their highs. The S&P 500 slipped 0.1 percent and the Dow dropped half a percent.

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