Most Asia Markets Fall, with Tech Firms Hit Again

W460

Asian markets mostly fell Monday with technology firms extending last week's sharp losses, following another plunge in Apple as investors fret over the once-lucrative smartphone sector.

News Saturday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had called a halt to nuclear tests and intercontinental missile launches -- ahead of a planned summit with Donald Trump -- was unable to provide enough support.

With attention now turning to earnings from the Syria crisis and the China-US trade spat, a series of reports on Apple expressing doubts about iPhone sales has battered tech stocks across the world.

The US giant fell more than four percent Friday, the day after a near-three percent drop that was fuelled by top smartphone chip supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) forecasting a plunge in sales.

The drop in Apple dragged the tech-rich Nasdaq sharply down in New York, where the Dow and S&P 500 also ended in negative territory as rising US Treasury yields fan fears about a sharp rise in interest rates.

The losses filtered through to Apple's Asian suppliers and other tech firms. AAC Technologies dived more than four percent in Hong Kong, TSMC shed one percent in Taipei and Alps Electric was 2.1 percent off in Tokyo, where Sharp lost almost five percent.

On broader markets, Japan's Nikkei ended the morning session 0.3 percent lower, Hong Kong slipped 0.7 percent and Shanghai fell 0.4 percent. Seoul eased 0.3 percent, Wellington lost 0.1 percent and Taipei was 0.4 percent lower.

However, Sydney added 0.2 percent and Singapore edged 0.1 percent higher.

- Crude maintains highs -

Oil prices dipped in Asia but remain at highs not seen since the end of 2014, with support from comments by Saudi Energy Minister Khaled al-Faleh on Friday that the global market has the capacity to absorb higher prices.

Saudi Arabia and Russia said at an OPEC meeting in Jeddah they would press on with a production cap deal to defend higher prices.

"OPEC and Russia compliance remains high and solidly committed to reining in oversupply, which should continue to support prices," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.

"But involuntary supply cuts and production outages in Venezuela will also continue to support even more so after the falls in US inventories last week."

He added that dealers were also keeping an eye on possible oil sanctions against Iran by the US, which could put further upward pressure on the market.

In currency trade, the pound continues to sag against the dollar after Bank of England head Mark Carney seemed to pour cold water on the prospects of a rate hike next month, disappointing traders who had bet on higher borrowing costs.

Focus is on the release this week of a slew of US data, including economic growth and personal consumption.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 22,085.90 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.7 percent at 30,209.80

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,060.21

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2268 from $1.2286 at 2100 GMT on Friday

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.82 yen from 107.62

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.4010 from $1.4014

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 22 cents at $68.18 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 18 cents at $73.88 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 24,462.94 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,368.17 (close)

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