Asian stocks decline following Wall Street reversal; bitcoin stumbles

FAN Editor

Asian markets traded in negative territory early on Wednesday after Wall Street closed lower in the previous session.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined 0.85 percent after touching a 26-year high in the last session. Most exporter stocks traded lower in the morning as the dollar resumed its decline against the yen. Shares of index heavyweights were broadly lower, with SoftBank Group down 1.5 percent and Fanuc falling 3.14 percent.

Core machinery orders released Wednesday showed a second consecutive monthly increase for the month of November, Reuters said. Core orders, a volatile metric, rose 5.7 percent compared to the previous month — easily topping the 1.4 percent decline projected in a Reuters poll.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi slipped 0.34 percent. Shares of Samsung Electronics declined 1.32 percent, as did those of rival chipmaker SK Hynix, which shed 0.54 percent.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.55 percent following the fall in base metals seen overnight. The materials sector led losses on the index, trading lower by 1.72 percent in the early going. Major mining names recorded significant declines: Rio Tinto fell 2.77 percent, BHP tumbled 2.65 percent and Fortescue Metals slid 2.07 percent.

Stateside, stock indexes closed in negative territory despite trading at record highs earlier in the session. The Dow Jones industrial average cracked the 26,000 barrier on Tuesday, but later reversed gains to finish the session lower by 0.04 percent, or 10.33 points, at 25,792.86.

Those declines came despite expectation-topping earnings reports as markets focused on the chances of a government shutdown stateside in the scenario Congress fails to pass a spending bill by Friday.

Bitcoin pared losses after tumbling below the $10,000 mark on U.S. cryptocurrency marketplace Coinbase. The broad sell-off in digital currencies saw bitcoin tumble more than 28 percent at one point. At 8:38 a.m. HK/SIN, bitcoin traded at $11,120.26, according to industry site CoinDesk.

Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, traded at $1,063.38 after falling around 30 percent earlier.

Other cryptocurrencies fared even worse.

The declines followed comments from South Korean authorities that indicated tougher regulation on digital currency trading was being considered. That said, there was no immediately apparent driver behind the most recent decline.

In currency markets, the dollar edged lower after pausing for breath in the last session. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies, was steady at 90.257 at 8:35 a.m. HK/SIN.

Against the yen, the dollar traded at 110.31.

Meanwhile, the euro inched higher after pulling back from three-year highs in the last session. The common currency traded at $1.2269 after falling as low as $1.2193 on Tuesday.

Those overnight declines followed news the European Central Bank might not adjust its policy stance at its January meeting. Doubts surrounding coalition talks in Germany also weighed on the common currency in the last session.

On the energy front, oil prices edged up after retreating from their highest levels in three years overnight. U.S. crude futures tacked on 0.33 percent to trade at $63.94 per barrel. Brent crude futures, which had yet to trade, declined 1.6 percent to settle at $69.15 in the last session.

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

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