Asian stocks fell on Friday, paring their best start to the year since 2009, with technology shares leading declines amid heightened volatility.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6 percent to 154.59, paring its advance so far this year to 15 percent. The index is down 0.3 percent for the week.
Technology shares, which slipped 0.9 percent on Friday, have been the biggest boost to the gauge this year, surging 31 percent since December last year. Australian stocks dropped the most since November last year.
“It’s been a very good period for Asian equities and some investors are taking advantage of the buoyant market by taking some money off the table considering there is a still a potential rate hike in the US this year,” BDO Unibank Inc chief market strategist Jonathan Ravelas said. “No one loses money from taking some profit.”
The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange closed down 26.58 points, or 0.26 percent, at the day’s high of 10,395.07. Still the TAIEX is up 0.2 percent for the week.
Hong Kong shares closed down on Friday, tracking weak overseas markets, but recorded their sixth straight monthly gain on expectations of supportive measures from Beijing at the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China yesterday.
With sentiment hurt by an overnight sell-off in the US and European markets, the Hang Seng index fell 0.8 percent to 25,764.58, while the China Enterprises Index (HSCE) lost 0.6 percent to 10,365.22 points.
For the month, Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent, its sixth straight month of gains. HSCE fell 2.2 percent last month.
Most sectors fell on Friday, led by IT and utilities stocks.
An index tracking raw material shares rose 1.2 percent.
Japan’s TOPIX fell 0.8 percent and Nikkei 225 lost 0.9 percent, weighed down by technology stocks.
The Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.1 percent.
South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.2 percent and the KOSPI 200 fell 0.3 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index shed 1.7 percent.
Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 1 percent and FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI fell 0.6 percent.
The Philippine Stock Exchange PSEi rose 0.7 percent and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Index added 0.6 percent.
Thailand’s SET Index lost 0.5 percent and India’s SENSEX and Nifty 50 indices both fell 0.1 percent.
Additional reporting by CNA and Reuters
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