Asian markets spooked by US tech sell-off

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Asian stocks fell on Thursday following weak US economic data and a sharp sell-off in US technology shares.

The Nasdaq index fell 2.4% – its biggest drop since April 2014 – to 4,876 on concerns that technology and biotech stocks have become overvalued.

US stocks also hit by news that durable goods orders fell last month.

Japan`s Nikkei 225 shares index closed 1.4% lower at 19,477.55 while South Korea`s benchmark Kospi shed 1% to 2,022.56.

In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.6% to close at 5,879.10, marking its biggest fall in more than two weeks.

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Chinese stocks bucked the trend, however, with the Shanghai Composite gaining 0.5% and Hong Kong`s Hang Seng rising 0.1%.

Geopolitical risk

Oil prices rose during Asian trade after Saudi Arabia, a major oil exporter, and its allies began airstrikes in Yemen, raising concerns on the disruption of supplies in the Middle East.

Brent crude rose by as much as 5%, approaching $60 (£40) a barrel in Tokyo.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures , the US benchmark, gained about 4% to $51 a barrel.

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“With Saudi beginning to bomb targets in Yemen, in an attempt to defuse a coup by Shiite rebels, the geo-political risk quotient in the Middle East has ratcheted higher,” Vishnu Varathan from Mizuho Bank wrote in a report.

“If the strike morphs into a full-blown confrontation involving Iran, then oil will surge alongside gold and the US dollar while US treasury yields may be set for a renewed drop.”

`Malicious attack`

Shares in Chinese water purification company Ozner Water International rose by more than 15% following a five-week long suspension.

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The firm had been accused of making “false and misleading representations” over its profitability by short-seller Glaucus Research last month.

The allegations caused Ozner`s shares to lose a fifth of its value before trading was halted.

On Wednesday, Ozner addressed Glaucus Research`s claims as “unfounded allegations” in a detailed statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

“We will not tolerate what seems to be an outright malicious attack on the company for personal gains which harms the company`s reputation and business prospects,” it said.

 

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