HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian shares and the dollar sank Friday on growing concerns about the global economy while the head of the IMF warned the eurozone could slip into recession if governments do not act.
Investors took their lead from a heavy sell-off on Wall Street, which wiped out the previous day’s Federal Reserve-fuelled gains. Fears of a fall-off in demand also sent oil traders fleeing, pushing crude prices to loses not seen since 2012.
Tokyo tumbled 0.90 per cent owing to a stronger yen, which is considered a safe bet in times of turmoil. Hong Kong lost 1.42 per cent, Sydney shed 1.60 per cent and Shanghai was 0.40 per cent lower while Seoul sank 1.10 per cent.
Taipei was closed for a public holiday.
Markets surged after minutes released Wednesday from the Fed’s most recent meeting indicated policymakers could refrain from hiking US interest rates any time soon as global economic and geopolitical woes were offsetting a domestic recovery.
That came as a relief to dealers who had come to expect a rise before the bank’s mid-2015 timetable.
However, that elation was erased late Thursday after another round of negative eurozone data, including a 5.8 per cent slump in German exports in August. Leading German think tanks also slashed their growth forecasts for the eurozone’s largest economy.
“Overriding everything is just the concern that European growth is weak and getting weaker,” said William Lynch of Hinsdale Associates.
On Wall Street the Dow tumbled 1.97 per cent, the S&P 500 shed 2.07 per cent and the Nasdaq sank 2.02 per cent.
And the dollar, which touched a six-year high above 110 yen last week, was struggling at 107.70 yen in Asia Friday, compared with 107.84 yen late in New York. The euro fetched 136.84 yen against 136.87 yen in US trade and well down from the 137.70 yen seen earlier Thursday in Tokyo.
The Japanese currency, a safe haven investment, has spiked as traders look to protect their cash.
The euro also bought $1.2713 against $1.2691 and 136.87 yen.
Oil prices fell to two-year troughs on demand worries.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for November delivery tumbled 90 cents to $84.87 in mid-morning trade, its lowest level since mid-December 2012.
Brent crude for delivery in November declined 85 cents to $89.20 its lowest since June 2012.
Gold was at $1,224.00 an ounce against $1,230.80 late Thursday.