Asian markets tumble as Wall St tech rout spreads

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HONG KONG (AFP) – Technology and energy firms were among the big losers as Asian investors ran for the exit Wednesday following another rout on Wall Street, with vaccine and post-Brexit trade deal fears adding to the perfect storm.

US traders returned from a long weekend to resume the selling that sent shudders through markets last week as they fretted over lofty valuations of many equities that have soared from their March troughs, helped by vast central bank support.

Last week’s retreat was centred on tech giants including Apple, Microsoft and Tesla — bringing the Nasdaq’s succession of record highs to a juddering halt — but analysts said the latest selling was broadening out.

“We don’t know exactly if this is the bottom, there could be more volatility,” Laila Pence, at Pence Wealth Management, told Bloomberg TV. “We’re taking the froth out of the market.”

Tuesday’s blood-letting in New York once again saw Apple and Microsoft in the firing line, though the standout was Tesla, which collapsed 21 percent — its worst day on record.

The Nasdaq, which had risen around 80 percent from its lows this year, is now officially in correction having lost more than 10 percent from its recent high on September 2.

And the red ink seeped into Asia, with Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Manila and Wellington all down more than one percent, while Sydney shed more than two percent. Singapore and Jakarta were also in negative territory.

In Tokyo, SoftBank dived more than seven percent on worries about its exposure to tech giants after it was revealed the conglomerate had made huge derivative bets ahead of the latest sell-off. It has lost around 14 percent this week so far.

While technology firms in the region were taking a hiding, energy firms were also in the cross-hairs after oil prices suffered their heaviest losses since the early days of the pandemic.

The commodity was in retreat on concerns about demand as the global recovery stutters and after the US summer holiday season — when people traditionally take to the road — came to an end.

There are fears OPEC will begin picking up production soon, after an output cut put in place to support the market earlier in the year

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