Asian markets drop as investors’ jitters return

Declines deepened in Asian stock markets as the day progressed Friday, erasing the week’s gains in Taiwan and Malaysia, while Japan’s Nikkei was barely hanging on to its advance. But the biggest drop was in Hong Kong, where stocks were down more than 2% to extend this week’s losses.

Aside from lingering worries over U.S.-China trade relations, there was no major news to set off the selling in Asia, as overseas indexes paused Thursday following post-midterm election bounces globally. But it may be a fresh sign that last week’s start-of-November bounce which gave a number of Asian indexes their best week in years hasn’t erased market concerns which have been persisting for months.

“Though the mid-term elections are over, worries that the U.S.-China trade war will drag on for the long term are lingering,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.92%   was down 1.1%, sliding from its 2½-week high Thursday. Nikon 7731, -9.78%   tumbled 9%, while robot-maker Fanuc 6954, -4.13%   slid 4% and Nintendo 7974, -2.48%   fell 2.8%.

After rising 6 of the past 7 trading days, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -2.39%   was down 2.3%. Tech remained weak, with smartphone-component makers AAC 2018, -4.75%   and Sunny Optical 2382, -4.16%   both down some 4%; they’ve respectively slumped 19% and 12% this week, and AAC is trading at fresh 2½-year lows. Meanwhile, internet heavyweight Tencent 0700, -3.95%   was off 4% after overnight weakness in the U.S. for its ADRs. Energy stocks were down similarly as U.S. oil prices entered bear-market territory Thursday.

China’s Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -1.29%   was down 1.2% — on pace for a fifth-straight drop — while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, -0.38%   was off just 0.3%.

South Korea’s Kospi SEU, -0.42%   was down slightly, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -1.32%  , Singapore STI, -0.78%  and Malaysia FBMKLCI, -0.78%   posted sharp declines.

Australian stocks XJO, -0.45%   dipped, led by energy stocks, with Woodside Petroleum WPL, -1.74%   and Oil Search OSH, -1.34%   off about 1.5% each. New Zealand stocks NZ50GR, +0.40%   bucked the regional trend, rising slightly.

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