Asian shares mostly lower after tech-led Wall Steet retreat

Stocks were mostly lower in Asia on Tuesday after Wall Street retreated from recent record levels on weakness in technology shares.

Hong Kong’s benchmark slipped on persisting worries over property developers. Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai also declined.

Shares in Shanghai-based Shimao Group Holdings sank 15.3% in Hong Kong on Tuesday on concerns about its financial situation. Shimao is among many property companies facing tighter controls on debt levels that have caught some heavily leveraged companies short on cash to meet debt obligations.

China Evergrande Group’s shares gave up 7.6%. Evergrande is one of China’s largest developers, with over $300 billion in debt.

“Recent scrutiny has gripped hold of Shimao Group Holdings, China’s 13th largest developer by contracted sales, on its liquidity position and debt-servicing ability. That may continue to put the property sector on watch today,” said Yeap Jun Rong of IG.

Another worry is China’s first reported case of the omicron variant of coronavirus, Yeap added.

Chinese leaders have promised tax cuts and support for entrepreneurs to shore up slumping economic growth as the country grapples with bankruptcies and defaults among real estate developers caused by the campaign to rein in surging debt.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 1.4% to 23,614.25 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.7% to 28,432.64. In Seoul, the Kospi fell 0.5% to 2,987.95.

The Shanghai Composite index shed 0.6% to 3,657.91, while Australia’s S&P;/ASX 200 edged less than 0.1% lower, to 7,378.40.

On Monday, the S&P; 500 fell 0.9% to 4,669.97, giving back some of its gains after the benchmark index climbed to an all-time high Friday ending Wall Street’s best week since February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also fell 0.9%, to 35,650.95. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slid 1.4% to 15,413.28.

The Russell 2000 also gave up 1.4%, to 2,180.50 as small-company stocks fared worse than the broader market in a signal that investors are concerned about economic growth.

Harley-Davidson rose 4.7% after saying it will take its electric motorcycle division public through a blank-check company, valuing the enterprise that has been part of the motorcycle maker for 10 years at $1.77 billion.

The market’s pullback, with the S&P; 500 fresh off its 67th all-time high this year, comes as investors look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s latest economic and interest rate policy update on Wednesday.

Wall Street will get an inflation update on Tuesday when the Labor Department releases its Producer Price Index for November, which shows how inflation is impacting costs for businesses. That report will be especially important with the Fed meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Markets expect the central bank will announce plans to accelerate its timetable for reducing bond purchases aimed at keeping long-term interest rates low.

Stocks have been mostly pushing higher, despite a volatile stretch in late November as worries about the omicron variant of the coronavirus roiled markets. Some of those concerns eased last week amid encouraging signs that the variant may be less dangerous than delta.

Several big pharmaceutical companies, including COVID-19 vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer were among the biggest gainers in the S&P; 500 Monday. Moderna jumped 5.8% for the biggest gain in the index. Pfizer rose 4.6% following news it is buying Arena Pharmaceuticals.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady at 1.42% after falling to 1.41% Monday from 1.49% late Friday. That weighed on banks, which rely on higher bond yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans. Capital One fell 2.9%.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude rose 7 cents to $71.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 38 cents to $71.29 on Monday.

Brent crude, the basis for international pricing of crude, picked up 14 cents to $74.53 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 113.60 Japanese yen from 113.57 late Monday. The euro slipped to $1.1282 from $1.1285.

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