Most of the Asian equity benchmarks are trading lower in the early deals on Thursday after US Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to take over the investigation of Russia's alleged interference in the US presidential election, though regional data lifted sentiment later in the day. Meanwhile, Japanese stocks tumbled to 1-1/2-week lows on worries that allegations against the US President Donald Trump over his interference with a federal investigation would delay his efforts on tax cuts and economic stimulus. Among the other Asian markets, Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan are all lower. Bucking the trend, Indonesia is higher.
Nikkei 225 dropped 313.93 points or 1.58% to 19,500.95, Hang Seng dipped 59.29 points or 0.23% to 25,234.34, Straits Times slipped 8.58 points or 0.27% to 3,215.52, Taiwan Weighted decreased 56.26 points or 0.56% to 9,957.41, KOSPI Index contracted 11.72 points or 0.51% to 2,281.36, FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI declined 9.64 points or 0.54% to 1,766.01, and Shanghai Composite was down by 5.84 points or 0.19% to 3,098.60.
On the flip side, Jakarta Composite was up by 8.54 points or 0.15% to 5,624.04.