Most of the Asian equity benchmarks are trading lower in the early deals on Thursday despite Wall Street closing at record highs for a fifth straight session overnight as better than expected US economic data and hawkish testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that raised prospects of an interest rate hike in March. Investors are also focusing on local corporate earnings results and economic data. The US dollar slipped against major currencies. Meanwhile, Japanese stocks retreated as a pause in the weakening of the yen gave investors an excuse to book profits, though financials extended their outperformance on rising US yields. Among the other Asian markets, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are also lower. Bucking the trend, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong are modestly higher.
Nikkei 225 slipped 107.09 points or 0.55% to 19,330.89, Jakarta Composite dropped 4.74 points or 0.09% to 5,375.93, KOSPI Index contracted 2.50 points or 0.12% to 2,081.36, Taiwan Weighted crumbled 32.15 points or 0.33% to 9,767.61 and FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI was down by 3.06 points or 0.18% to 1,706.73.
On the flip side, Straits Times gained 2.09 points or 0.07% to 3,090.57, Shanghai Composite rose 6.24 points or 0.19% to 3,219.22, and Hang Seng was up by 97.39 points or 0.41% to 24,092.26.