Asia markets down, Nikkei slips 1.5% – CNBC

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Asia markets were mostly down in a choppy trading session Wednesday, despite a positive finish in Wall Street overnight.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gave up morning gains to trade down 0.46 percent. In China, the Shanghai composite slipped 0.24 percent, while the Shenzhen composite was down 0.46 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 gave up early gains of as much as 1 percent to trade 1.52 percent down. Across the Korean strait, the Kospi was dropped 0.18 percent.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.57 percent, weighed by losses of 3.45 percent in the energy sector.

Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at the National Australia Bank, said in a morning note, “The global equity rally that began on Friday has started to show signs of fatigue,” noting that most European indices ended marginally lower on Tuesday. The positive finish in the U.S. was partly due to indexes there playing catch up after a long weekend, he said.

The U.S. market was closed on Monday for the President’s Day holiday.

But analysts at Barclays had a different take, suggesting in a note that the gain in U.S. equities overnight was driven by “consumer discretionary, industrials and financials,” adding that risk aversion was mostly subdued despite the overnight fall in oil prices. U.S. core retail sales data topped expectations on Friday, rising 0.6 percent in January after an unrevised 0.3 percent slip in December.

Jeff Knight, global head of investment solutions at Columbia Threadneedle Investments told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that rallies in stock markets, like the one on Wall Street overnight, should be looked at with the bigger picture in mind.

“It’s important to keep it in perspective of what’s been going on this year, not to get too lulled by strong up days,” he said, pointing out that despite recent gains made by major indexes around the world, many of them are still sharply down on year-to-date.

“Big up days often times don’t signal the all clear,” he said. “They just simply represent the upside of the volatility that’s affecting markets in both directions.”

Overnight, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch fund manager survey for February showed market pros had gotten so nervous that portfolio managers’ cash allocations were at November 2001 highs.

Asia markets down, Nikkei slips 1.5% – CNBC}