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Market Update

Hong Kong Leads Losses in Asia

Asian markets were sharply lower Wednesday, weighed down by overnight losses at Wall Street and after disappointing Chinese services sector data added to investor woes.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng led the losses, ending down 2.5% while the Shanghai Composite eased 0.6%.

Mumbai's Sensex erased 1.5%, Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries fell 1.7% while Japan's Nikkei finished 0.3% lower.

Investor confidence was weak at open after U.S. stocks finished Tuesday's session with losses overnight. But stocks pushed further into the negative zone after official data released in China's service sector grew at a slower pace this month.

The official reading of purchasing managers' index of China's service sector slipped to 53.9 in June down from a high of 54.3 in May.

Other reports released today included Japan's composite output index, which fell to 52.3 in June from 54.1 in May.

Meanwhile, official statistics in Australia indicated that retail sales in the country increased a less-than-expected 0.1% in June, after posting a decline of 0.1% in May.

Stocks on the Move

Defensives such as realty players and pharma stocks found some support in Tokyo. Some car manufacturers and resources firms were also in the green, but other sectors slipped into negative territory.

On the gainers' side, Mitsui Fudosan rose 2.8%, Inpex Corp. gained 2.8% while Nissan Motors edged up 0.6%. Drug makers Astellas Pharma and Takeda Pharmaceuticals were up around 0.5% each.

On the flipside, top losers included power utilities. Tokyo Electric Power slumped 10.3%, Kansai Electric Power fell 2.4% and Kyushu Electric Power dropped 3.5%.

Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. made its debut on the Tokyo stock index today but received a mixed response from investors. Shares of the company opened 0.6% above its premarket price.

Softbank Corp. lost 1.7% despite reports that a majority of U.S. Federal Communications Commission members have approved the company's bid for U.S. based mobile carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. 

In Hong Kong, property developers, resources stocks and banks posted heavy losses.

China Resources Land Ltd. plunged 3.7%, New World Development Corp. slumped 4.3% while Sino Land Company dropped 3.9%.

On the mainland, Gemdale Corp. and Poly Real Estate slumped 3.2% and 2.0% respectively, while the broader-Shenzhen listed pulled back 2.7%.

Metal-linked firms Jiangxi Copper and Aluminum Corp. of China ended down 3.5 to 4.5% while banks including ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Bank of Communications erased around 3% to 4.5% each.

In Mumbai, investors took cues from overseas markets and moved out of equities even as the rupee weakened further against the dollar.

Metal-players were among the top decliners. Sterlite Industries fell 4.6%, Tata Steel gave up 4.5% while Hindalco Industries erased 4.5%.

Other major losers included Tata Power (-4.9%), ONGC (-3.5%), BHEL (-3%) and Bharti Airtel (-2.8%).

Among banks, state-run SBI dropped 4.6% while private lenders ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank lost 1.5% and 1% respectively.

Banks in Sydney were listless too. NAB erased 1.9% while Westpac Banking Corp. fell 2.6%. Commonwealth Bank slipped 0.5%.

Mining companies traded with sharp losses amid lingering concerns of economic growth in China, the country's largest export destination for metals.

Index leader BHP Billiton and its close competitor Rio Tinto plunged around 3% each while Fortescue Metals Group retreated 1%.

Retailers also slipped after retail sales posted weaker than expected growth. Wesfarmers Ltd. fell 2.6% and Woolworths Ltd. lost around 2%.