Most of the Asian equity benchmarks are trading lower in the early deals on Friday with investors taking profits following the recent strong gains and also tracking the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street. Crude oil prices are edging higher in Asian trades, extending overnight gains. Investors also digested news that Samsung Group's Lee Jae-yong was formally arrested over his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Lee is the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. and heir apparent of the Samsung Group. Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei share average dropped with the market wary of a stronger yen and financials weakened as US bond yields fell after comments by a senior US Federal Reserve official were viewed as relatively dovish. Among the other Asian markets, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Shanghai and Taiwan are lower. Bucking the trend, Singapore and Malaysia are modestly higher.
Nikkei 225 dipped 126.22 points or 0.65% to 19,221.31, Jakarta Composite slipped 28.82 points or 0.54% to 5,349.18, Hang Seng contracted 96.44 points or 0.40% to 24,011.26, KOSPI Index dropped 3.77 points or 0.18% to 2,078.07, Shanghai Composite declined 15.00 points or 0.46% to 3,214.62, and Taiwan Weighted was down by 3.48 points or 0.04% to 9,767.77.
On the flip side, Straits Times added 13.52 points or 0.44% to 3,110.21, and FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI was up by 1.86 points or 0.11% to 1,709.45.