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Asia: Stocks open down after US tech slump

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[HONG KONG] Asian markets opened lower on Tuesday, following poor performances by tech firms on Wall Street and as investors anticipated a Bank of Japan policy decision.

US tech equities suffered a significant tumble on Monday, pushing the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index in New York down 1.4 per cent - the third straight day it had lost at least one percent.

Silicon Valley shares have been in retreat since Facebook last week signaled slower growth as it spends more on data security in response to criticism over its privacy policies.

The slump affecting the sector's biggest five stocks - Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google - has injected trepidation into world markets ahead of an Apple earnings announcement later Tuesday, analysts said.

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"The markets heavyweight champions are having a rough day, but US markets pruned much of their losses as bank stocks and surging oil prices boosted producers," said Stephen Innes, head of APAC trading at OANDA.

"All eyes will remain on Nasdaq as the Wall Street wall of worry continues to build around the tech sector," he added.

In early Asian trade on Tuesday, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index was down 0.3 per cent, while the yen was slightly higher ahead of an announcement by the Bank of Japan (BoJ) after a two-day policy meeting.

Hong Kong slipped 0.6 per cent and China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.3 per cent, as investors also eyed announcements by other major central banks this week.

Manila was one per cent down and Singapore lost 0.3 per cent, while Sydney edged up 0.1 per cent and Seoul was flat.

There has been widespread speculation about whether Japan's central bank may be looking to alter its ultra-loose monetary policy, but analysts said rate changes were not widely expected.

"I think the BoJ will be a little bit less of an event than is being forecast and despite all the rumor and innuendo, I suspect Kuroda and co. will sit on their hands," Evan Lucas, chief market strategist at InvestSMART, told Bloomberg Television, referring to the bank's governor Haruhiko Kuroda.

"The catch around that and probably the contrarian trade is that whatever they say, I think is going to see a reaction anyway."

The US Federal Reserve is set to make its own announcement on Wednesday, and the Bank of England on Thursday.

AFP