Tokyo, Japan (BBN)-Markets in Japan and Australia opened lower on Wednesday, tracking overnight weakness in US markets as investors brace for a possible rise in US rates.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was down 0.57 per cent – or 97.38 points at midday – at 17,137.60, reports BBC.
Profit-taking is adding to downward pressure after five sessions of gains.
In Australia, the S&P ASX/200 was also lower, by 1.1 per cent at 5,319.10 points.
In South Korea, the Kospi was flat with a negative bias at 1,982.26.
Over in China the Shanghai Composite was flat at 2,920.28 points. Meanwhile in Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index was down a touch, by 0.15 per cent to 20,780.30.
US markets closed mostly lower overnight, as investors weighed the prospect of a rate hike by the US central bank – the Federal Reserve.
Softbank shares have traded up by as much as 3.5 per cent in Tokyo, outperforming the broader market.
The Japanese technology firm has disclosed it is offloading $7.9bn (£5.4bn) worth of shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
The transaction would reduce Softbank’s stake in Alibaba from 32.2 per cent to 28 per cent.
The focus in Asia will mainly be on Japan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly due to announce a postponement in the nation’s sales tax increase at a press conference later on Wednesday.
The next increase in the tax was supposed to take place in April next year, boosting to 10 per cent from the current 8 per cent.
But Japanese media have been reporting that Mr Abe wants to delay this until 2019.