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Asian Equities Fall for Third Day; Tech Shares Lead Drop

Asian stocks were lower in morning trade on Tuesday – Asian stocks were lower in morning trade on Tuesday, with technology shares leading the drop amid reports of a Facebook data breach, as the company had allegedly shared the data of up to 50 million users with political data analytics Cambridge Analytica.

Shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) fell the most in almost four years following the reports. Investors’ focus now turns to the first U.S. interest rate decision under new Fed chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday. Some expected he is open to rise the policy rate four times this year, while others suspected there would be no more than three following a round of mediocre data earlier.

Overnight, the technology-laden Nasdaq lost 1.8%, while the S&P 500 and the Dow both fell 1.4%.

In Japan, reports that Japanese trade minister Hiroshige Seko said there was a “high possibility” the country would be exempted from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum took center stage as he noted Japanese steel and aluminum products were “irreplaceable” to the U.S. industry. The Nikkei dropped 1.2% by 9:45pm ET (01:45GMT).

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s comments on Tuesday gathered moderate attention as he wrapped up the People’s Congress and said China would expand reform and opening while stepping up efforts to solve environmental problems. The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.4% while Shenzhen Component fell 0.9%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was 0.7% lower, as it was also dragged down by technology stocks. Index heavyweight Tencent Holdings Ltd (HK:0700) is due to report earnings after the close on Wednesday. A report by Goldman Sachs raised some eye brows as it hiked its 12-month price target on Tencent by 22% despite recent global selloff in technology shares.

Down under, Australia’s ASX Ltd (AX:ASX) dived at the open and has remained in the red since then. The mining sector underperformed after a fall in the iron ore price. BHP Billiton Ltd (AX:BHP) and Rio Tinto Ltd (AX:RIO) were both down more than 2%.

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