A special gong is prepared for the launch of the SSE STAR Market in the hall of Shanghai Securities Exchange in Shanghai, China, Monday, July 22, 2019. Trading started Monday on a Chinese stock market for high-tech companies that play a key role in official development plans that are straining relations with Washington. (Chinatopix via AP)

Asian shares lower, Shanghai STAR tech board shares surge

July 21, 2019 - 10:29 pm

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Monday, tracking losses on Wall Street, though a newly launched technology stocks market in Shanghai soared with its trading debut.

Prices of the 25 companies listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange's STAR Market more than doubled, with one company, Anji Microelectronics Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., logging a 415% advance.

Regulators have approved 25 companies in information technology and other fields for the STAR Market. The market, modeled on the U.S.-based NASDAQ, reflects the ruling Communist Party's desire to channel private capital into its development plans. It gives small Chinese investors a chance to buy into tech industries that until now have turned to Wall Street to sell shares.

Elsewhere in Asia the mood was more subdued.

Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3% to 21,400.35. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 to 6,683.50. South Korea's Kospi inched down but was flat at 2,093.77. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.8% to 28,451.65, while the Shanghai Composite index sank 0.8% to 2,901.88.

U.S. stocks retreated further from their records on Friday to cap the weakest week for the S&P 500 since May as sentiment darkened after Iran said it seized a British oil tanker in the latest escalation of tensions between Tehran and the West.

The S&P 500 fell 0.6% to 2,976.61. After setting its record high on Monday, the index see-sawed mostly lower and lost 1.2% for the week. It's just the second down week for the index in the last seven. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3% to 27,154.20, and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.7% to 8,146.49.

Momentum for U.S. stocks has slowed since early June, when they began soaring on expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates for the first time in a decade to ensure the U.S. economy doesn't succumb to weaknesses abroad. The Fed's next meeting is scheduled for the end of this month.

"With the markets wholly captivated by the looser the policy, the better the risk opportunities, investors could remain singularly focused on the Federal Reserve, and the European Central Bank policy decision and communications as global equity markets continue to have their ups and down based on the perceived degree of accommodative central bank policy," Stephen Innes of Vanguard Markets said in a commentary.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 47 cents to $56.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 34 cents to $55.76 on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 79 cents to $63.26 per barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.00 Japanese yen from 107.74 yen Friday. The euro weakened to $1.1218 from $1.1221.