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Asian equities rattled by US tech tumble

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STI, which fell 1.24%, one of the worst hit in region

A tumble in tech stocks on Wall Street overnight on Monday extended to Asian equities yesterday, with nearly all markets in the region ending in the red.

Singapore shares were among the worst hit in Asia, dragged down by financials.

It was a sea of red on the local bourse as constituents foundered on negative sentiment from the US tech slide.

On a slow news day, not uncommon around this time of the year, the Straits Times Index (STI) shed 38.08 points to 3,026.99, its second day of losses in the week.

Shares on the STI steadily fell on the US tech rout, opening lower by 1.08 per cent in the morning, falling 1.2 per cent after the lunch break, before ending sharply lower by 1.24 per cent at the closing bell.

Decliners heavily outnumbered advancers 268 to 118, as some 1.44 billion shares worth $925.4 million in total changed hands.

The most actively traded counter was Genting Singapore with 39.96 million shares, losing 2.13 per cent or two cents to 92 cents.

The three local banks finished in the red. OCBC Bank fell 2.53 per cent, or 28 cents, to $10.81, while United Overseas Bank slipped 1.65 per cent or 40 cents to $23.85.

DBS Bank finished at $22.90, down 1.29 per cent or 30 cents.

The tech sector, predictably, saw heavy losses.

Precision manufacturer UMS Holdings dropped 3.97 per cent, or 2.5 cents to 60.5 cents, while electronics manufacturing services provider Venture Corp eased 1.87 per cent, or 28 cents, to $14.67. AEM Holdings shed 2.69 per cent, or 2.5 cents, to 90.5 cents.

In the commodities sector, Halcyon Agri Corporation announced it has launched a sustainable natural rubber supply chain policy, which will apply to the group as well as the stakeholders that it trades with.

In-flight caterer and ground handling outfit Sats, meanwhile, ended 2.27 per cent lower to $4.74 after announcing late Monday it is aiming to scale up its operations in China, targeting customers in fast-casual restaurants, as well as the aviation sector.

In the US, tech stocks had a torrid Monday after Apple's and Facebook's shares fell on reports of production cuts and controversies over handling of customer data, respectively, with other tech giants like Amazon and Netflix tumbling thereafter.

There is rising expectation of a detente at the G-20 Trump-Xi meeting, wrote Bank of Singapore's currency strategist Sim Moh Siong.

"We believe the most positive outcome at G20 would be the White House 'stopping the clock' on the now-scheduled ramp-up in tariffs from a 10 per cent rate to a 25 per cent rate, moving that date from Jan 1, 2019, to a later date.

"In such a scenario of trade war de-escalation, we would expect a longer period of Chinese yuan and Asian currency stability," he added.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was weighed down by its technology sector, falling 2.02 per cent.

South Korea's Kospi snapped three prior sessions of gains to end 0.86 per cent lower.

Weak iPhone sales continued to put pressure on the country's large tech sector. Samsung and SK Hynix - which between them produce microprocessors, memory chips and displays for Apple's flagship product - ended 2 per cent and 3.3 per cent lower, respectively.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 was hit by the double whammy of falling US tech shares and Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn's dismissal and subsequent arrest.

Mr Ghosn was arrested for allegedly under-reporting his earnings and will be fired from Nissan's board this week.

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