Asian markets mixed after Wall Street slides

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed yesterday after Wall Street turned in its biggest weekly decline in more than two months.

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Sydney retreated. Seoul gained and Hong Kong was little-changed.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index lost 0.8 per cent on Friday, breaking a streak of gains.

Investors have been encouraged by hopes for a coronavirus vaccine and central bank infusions of cash into struggling economies. But forecasters warn the rise in prices might be outrunning uncertain economic activity as case numbers rise in the United States (US) and some other countries. Some are re-imposing anti-disease controls that disrupt business.

“The question now is whether there will be a sustained unwinding in this forthy market, or if conviction about fresh central bank liquidity and fear of missing out kicks in once again,” Mizuho Bank said in a report.

One possible sign the decline might be temporary: demand for government bonds and other assets considered safe havens in an extended down market “has not come flooding back in”, the bank said.

A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 per cent to 3,350.03 after Chinese customs data showed August export growth accelerated to 9.5 per cent over a year earlier while imports edged lower.

Shares in China’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturer, SMIC, fell 19.8 per cent in Hong Kong following news reports from Washington that US officials are considering limiting its access to American manufacturing technology. The company has denied US suggestions it assists China’s military development.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.4 per cent to 23,113.84 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was up less than 0.1 per cent at 24,708.79.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.7 per cent to 2,384.42 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.2 per cent to 3,915.30.

India’s Sensex opened 0.2 per cent lower at 38,288.95. New Zealand and Singapore advanced while Jakarta declined.

Wall Street’s slide on Friday followed a Labor Department report that showed US hiring slowed to 1.4 million last month. That was fewest jobs added since the economy started bouncing back from the initial shock of the pandemic.

The US has recovered about half the 22 million jobs lost to the pandemic.

The S&P 500 fell to 3,426.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6 per cent to 28,133.31. The technology-heavy Nasdaq dropped 1.3 per cent to 11,313.13.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude oil for October delivery fell 55 cents to USD39.22 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost USD1.60 to USD39.77 on Friday. Brent crude for November delivery, the international standard, declined 49 cents to USD42.17 per barrel in London. It shed USD1.41 the previous session to USD42.66.

The dollar rose to 106.26 Japanese yen from Friday’s 106.21 yen. The euro fell to USD1.1834 from USD1.1852.