Feb 17, 2017 09:18 AM IST | Source: CNBC

Asia trades lower; Nikkei down 0.7%, Kospi down 0.4%

The broader South Korean market was mixed, with the Kospi down 0.35 percent and the Kosdaq up 0.15 percent. Elsewhere, Japanese shares were also lower, with the Nikkei Stock Average down 0.69 percent and the Topix off by 0.59 percent.

Asia trades lower; Nikkei down 0.7%, Kospi down 0.4%
Asia markets opened lower on Friday, tracking losses in the US from the Thursday session, as Samsung Group shares were in focus following the arrest of its chief.

Jay Y. Lee was arrested early on Friday over his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye, according to Reuters.

Lee was taken into custody at the Seoul Detention Center, where he had awaited a court's decision, following a day-long closed-door hearing that ended on Thursday evening, Reuters said.

Samsung and Lee have denied wrongdoing in the case.

In a statement after the arrest, a Samsung spokesperson said, "We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings."

Shares of the flagship business — Samsung Electronics — was down 0.4 percent at 1,894,000 Korean won. The won traded at 1,143.50 against the dollar.

Shares of Samsung SDI climbed 0.4 percent, Samsung Electro-Mechanics up 0.7 percent, Samsung C&T off by 2 percent and Samsung Engineering fell 2 percent.

The broader South Korean market was mixed, with the Kospi down 0.35 percent and the Kosdaq up 0.15 percent.

Elsewhere, Japanese shares were also lower, with the Nikkei Stock Average down 0.69 percent and the Topix off by 0.59 percent.

Japanese electronics company Sharp beat the broader index to trade up 1.86 percent at 328 yen, after the company revised its earnings estimates.

In a filing on Friday, Sharp said it expected operating income for the year ending March 31, 2017, to be 47.4 billion yen, up from its previous forecast of 37.3 billion yen.

Sharp also trimmed its expected losses for the year to 27.1 billion yen, from an earlier forecast of 37.2 billion yen.

Australia's the benchmark ASX 200 traded down 0.24 percent, with the energy and materials sectors down 0.66 percent and 0.94 percent, respectively. The heavily-weighted financial sector was flat.

Major resources producers Down Under were off by more than 1 percent each. Shares of Rio Tinto fell 1.66 percent, Fortescue was off by 2.84 percent and BHP Billiton declined by 1.93 percent.

In the currency market, the dollar slipped against a basket of currencies to trade at 100.48, down from levels near 101.07 in the previous session.

"The constant rebuff on dollar rallies is a worrying sign that the market may be favoring positioning for a sudden wave of risk aversion," said Stephen Innes, a senior trader at OANDA, in a note.

"Apparently, political jitters continue to override strong underlying economic sentiment in this current climate," Innes added.

The yen traded at 113.25 to the dollar, strengthening from levels above 114 earlier in the week. The stronger yen sent most Japanese exporters lower, with
Toyota shares down 1.15 percent, Mitsubishi Electric off by 1.26 percent and Sony down 0.96 percent.

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar fetched USD 0.7691.

The session in Asia followed a slightly lower finish in the US on Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished near flat at 20,619.77, while the S&P 500 slipped 2.03 points, or 0.09 percent, to end at 2,347.22. The Nasdaq dropped 4.54 points, or 0.08 percent, to close at 5,814.
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