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Asian shares drop on US selloff; Yemen in focus

Asian equity markets declined on Thursday following a sharp selloff on Wall Street overnight and as investors monitored political turmoil in Yemen.

Wall Street shares were sold off on Wednesday, with the Nasdaq Composite tumbling more than 2 percent due to losses in technology and biotech shares. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both ended over 1 percent lower after February durable goods orders fell, missing expectations for an increase.

Oil prices rallied over 1 percent on Thursday, extended gains following a near 4 percent rally overnight, on the back of political conflict in Yemen. Saudi Arabia announced it began military operations in Yemen at 7pm Eastern time on Wednesday after Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi reportedly fled Aden as Houthi militants moved closer to the city.

Nikkei falls 1 percent

Japan’s benchmark index retreated further from a 15-year high hit on Monday, with technology shares leading the declines.

Sony and Japan Display fell 3 and 4 percent respectively, following a selloff in the US technology space.

Toyota Motor eased nearly 1 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported the firm will release more hybrid vehicles in Japan.

Shanghai down 0.8 percent

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite index extended losses into a second session as investors digested the latest earnings. The index snapped a 10-day winning streak on Wednesday.

Bank of China lost over 1 percent after fourth-quarter net profit rose at the slowest pace in six years. ICBC and Bank of Communications traded down 1 percent each ahead of reporting 2014 earnings later in the day.

Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco) dropped 1 percent after reporting its biggest ever loss in 2014.

ASX 1.3 percent lower

Australia’s benchmark S&P ASX 200 moved further away from the key 6,000 mark, weighed by steep losses in banks.

Australia New Zealand Banking, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia all lost 1 percent each. Bank of Queensland fell 2 percent despite posting record first-half earnings of A$ 167 million.

Department store operator Myer slumped over 5 percent on news it is being sued by shareholders over its weak profit results.

Kospi down 0.6 percent

South Korean shares declined on fears of deflation. Data out before the market open showed March consumer sentiment hitting a three-month low, while inflation expectations for the next year dropped to a record low.

Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics was the biggest loser on the benchmark index, down 2.5 percent.

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