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Asia: Stocks track Wall Street lower amid investor caution


[HONG KONG] Asia stocks opened in the red on Tuesday, tracking a slump on global markets, as investors took profits following recent rallies and awaited a deluge of company and economic announcements.

Higher US bond yields weighed on sentiment while investors were also cautious ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting Wednesday and a host of major earnings reports, including from technology heavyweights, due this week.

All three major US indices fell Monday in one of the few down days of 2018, as Paris and Frankfurt also edged lower.

Asia extended the global sell-off Tuesday morning, with Tokyo dipping 0.6 percent as Sydney shed 0.3 per cent, Hong Kong dropped 0.1 per cent and Seoul lost 0.06 per cent.

Bourses in Shanghai, Taipei, Singapore and Jakarta also declined.

"This morning's weak opening by the ASX 200 reflects investor response to rising bond yields and caution ahead of significant macro data releases over coming days," said Ric Spooner, a Sydney-based analyst at CMC Markets.

"Principle among these could be Janet Yellen's final FOMC meeting as Chair. A hawkish Fed response to recent strong US data could extend selling in the bond markets and amplify the nervousness evident in US stock markets last night." This week's earnings calendar meanwhile includes tech giants Amazon, Apple and Facebook, as well as traditional blue chip companies such as Boeing, ExxonMobil and McDonald's.

Investors have been cheered thus far by better-than-expected results and upbeat outlooks in the wake of US tax cuts.

But after a wave of Wall Street records in the first month of 2018, they are nervous that stocks "may be priced for perfection" heading into the busiest stretch of earnings season, one analyst said.

There have been worries about Apple's earnings after the Nikkei daily reported that the company was slashing production of the latest model of its iPhone.

Apple will halve production of the iPhone X in the three-month period from January from the level envisaged at the time of its release in November, the business paper said.

Apple suppliers were among those hit Tuesday, with Sony and Japan Display both down 1.2 per cent.

Hon Hai Precision and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing also slid.

In currency markets, the dollar stood at 109.09 yen against 108.98 yen in New York on Monday.


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