Asian shares take a beating after US tech rout

Guy Bentley
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Asian shares are taking a beating after major sell-offs in US tech companies left investors shying away from riskier assets and emerging markets.

The losses come hot on the heels of a tough day on Wall Street, with the Nasdaq suffering its worst single drop since 2011. Japan was left particularly vulnerable to the tech rout, with shares at one point reaching a six-month low.

In China, data showed a rebound in consumer price inflation of 2.4 per cent in March from a year earlier, in line with analysts expectations. The rebound was largely driven by rise in food inflation.

However, this should prove short-lived, with food inflation expected to fall this month. Core consumer price inflation remained steady at 1.7 per cent.

Producer price inflation fell further, from minus two per cent year-on-year in February to -2.3 per cent last month. Producer price inflation has now remained in negative territory for over two years.

But it may be a little early to start raising concerns about deflation. China's producer price index is heavily weighted towards industrial inputs and is more informative about global commodity prices than the state of domestic supply and demand. In fact, falling producing prices are more likely to be beneficial for most industrial firms.

China's Premier Li Keqiang's comments yesterday ruling out major stimulus suggest it is unlikely there will be a policy shift that could stoke domestic price pressures.

Japan's Topix is down 0.9 per cent, while the Nikkei is suffering a steeper decline of 2.1 per cent. The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index is down 0.6 per cent, with the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index not far behind falling by 0.5 per cent so far. South Korea's Kospi is also down by 0.9 per cent.