HONG KONG: Tech giants including Samsung and Tencent sank in Asian trade on Tuesday (Dec 5), tracking a sell-off in their US rivals and dragging most regional markets lower.
While investors welcomed news that the US Senate had finally passed controversial tax reforms, the deal must still be reconciled with a House bill, while the probe into alleged Russian meddling in last year's election continues to dog Donald Trump.
The Dow closed at a record high on Wall Street but the Nasdaq tumbled more than one per cent as dealers shifted out of the tech sector, which has enjoyed a healthy rally through the year, and into financial firms.
"The high-tech sell-off has worsened overall sentiment," said Toshihiko Matsuno, chief strategist at SMBC Friend Securities.
"Investors seem to be rebalancing (their portfolios) to take profits towards the end of the year, moving out of high-performing technology and health care issues into financial stocks that are likely to fare well next year," Matsuno told AFP.
Samsung fell 0.2 per cent, while Tencent sank more than three per cent and Sharp lost more than two per cent.
On broader markets Tokyo ended 0.4 per cent lower and Hong Kong shed one per cent, while Sydney and Shanghai each dipped 0.2 per cent.
Wellington, Taipei, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur were also lower but Seoul and Manila edged up.
In early European trade London was up 0.2 per cent and Frankfurt and Paris were both flat.
Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers, also warned of the possibility of a delay to a key corporate tax cut as part of the Senate-House talks.
"I still believe that the market is pricing in a lot of optimism and if lawmakers delay implementation of this policy to 2019, I would expect to see a correction accordingly," he said.
On currency markets the pound continued to struggle against the dollar after falling on news that British and European negotiators had failed to reach an agreement on Brexit.
Sterling had rallied on hopes British Prime Minister Theresa May was close to a divorce deal. But the talks collapsed after the Democratic Unionist Party said it would not back her position on the future of the Northern Irish border.
The British unit sank from a high of US$1.3539 to US$1.3414 on the news before recovering slightly in New York. However, it slid back towards the weaker levels in Asian trade.
Investors are watching events in Washington as political risk returns to the fore, after Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn admitted lying to investigators probing Russia's possible involvement in the election.
Flynn has agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, fuelling speculation the investigation could ensnare members of the White House and even Trump.
- Key figures around 0820 GMT -
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 per cent at 22,622.38 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.0 per cent at 28,842.80 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 per cent at 3,303.68 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 per cent 7,356.95
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1861 from $1.1865 at 2200 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3424 from $1.3470
Dollar/yen: UP at 112.67 yen from 112.41 yen
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN three cents at $57.44 per barrel
Oil - Brent North Sea: UP eight cents at $62.37 per barrel
New York - DOW: UP 0.2 per cent at 24,290.05 (close)