Asia Markets: Nikkei hits 4-day low as Asian markets continue to drop

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    The Asia-Pacific markets that were open for business during the Lunar New Year holiday extended their declines Tuesday, tracking moves overnight in the U.S., as investor risk aversion around President Donald Trump’s immigration policy kicked in.

    The losses marked a turn from the gains racked up in global equity markets last week, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 20,000 point line for the first time ever; the Nikkei also reached multiweek highs.

    Concern about Trump’s executive order limiting immigration from a handful of Muslim-majority nations triggered broad-based uncertainty. The major U.S. indexes closed lower overnight, which hung over into the Asian day.

    “You’re seeing something of a buyers’ strike in the market,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Group. “People are just waiting to see what happens under the Trump administration to see how the landscape lies over the next couple of weeks.”

    The Nikkei Stock Average NIK, -1.58%   was recently down 1.0%, opening at a four-day low. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.78%   was 0.8% lower and Korea’s Kospi SEU, -0.56%   slipped 0.4%.

    Exporters, technology and financial stocks were among the biggest decliners. In Japan, Mazda Motor 7261, -3.92%   fell 3.8% and Toshiba 6502, -2.96%   was down 1.7%. In Australia, the Big Four banks — Westpac WBC, -1.12%   , Commonwealth Bank of Australia CBA, -0.71%  , National Australia Bank NAB, -0.95%   and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group ANZ, -1.08%   — were 0.6% to 1.2% lower.

    The U.S. dollar-Japanese yen pair came under selling pressure — briefly touching ¥113.59 — as investors looked to the haven yen amid the political uncertainty. The pair is nearing its crucial downside support point of ¥113.45 — its low point set on Monday — said Mizuho Securities chief FX strategist Kengo Suzuki.

    “If the dollar falls below this point, downtrend is set to intensify again and pull the dollar down toward ¥112,” said Suzuki.

    In commodities, gold edged up as investors sought shelter. Gold miners benefited, with Australia’s Resolute Mining RSG, +0.82%   up 1.7% and Newcrest Mining NCM, +1.03%   adding 1.2%.

    “The market has been spooked by Trump’s controversial travel ban, [we are] seeing the precious metal head back toward potential round-number support/resistance at $1,200 a troy ounce,” said Alex Furber, a sales trader at CMC Markets.

    Looking ahead, market participants are awaiting fourth-quarter growth data from the European Union later today. In addition, the outcome of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting later this week will be on many watch lists. There is a 96% probability of U.S. interest rates remaining unchanged, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

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