Asian shares skid, tracking Wall Street retreat

Elaine Kurtenbach

BANGKOK (AP) – Asian shares slipped yesterday after a retreat on Wall Street that left the Nasdaq composite down 2.5 per cent.

Tokyo fell nearly two per cent and Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul also were lower.

China reported its global trade surplus surged nearly 30 per cent in 2021 to USD676.4 billion.

The trade surplus in December swelled 20.8 per cent over a year earlier to a monthly record of USD94.4 billion, customs data showed yesterday.

Exports rose to USD3.3 trillion in 2021 despite shortages of processor chips for smartphones and other products as global demand rebounded from the pandemic. Manufacturers also were hampered by power rationing imposed in some areas.

The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.6 per cent to 3,534.17 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost one per cent to 24,195.79. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.8 per cent to 27,987.78.

A currency trader walks near the screens showing the foreign exchange rates dealing in Seoul. PHOTO: AP

South Korea’s Kospi declined 1.5 per cent to 2,918.94. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.9 per cent to 7,405.10.

Technology companies led a sell-off on Wall Street on Thursday that pulled the major indexes into the red for the week.

The S&P 500 fell 1.4 per cent to 4,659.03. The tech-heavy Nasdaq slumped 2.5 per cent to 14,806.81. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5 per cent to 36,113.62. Smaller company stocks also fell. The Russell 2000 slid 16.62 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 2,159.44.

The selling came as investors gauged company earnings reports and new data pointing to rising prices at the wholesale level. Inflation has been a key focus for investors as they try to gauge how rising prices will impact businesses, consumers and the Federal Reserve’s policy on interest rates in 2022. “Investors are continuing to be concerned that the worst is yet to be seen in terms of inflation,” said Chief Investment Strategist at CFRA Sam Stovall.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 1.72 per cent from 1.73 per cent from late Wednesday.

The Labor Department on Thursday reported that its producer price index, which measures prices at the wholesale level, surged by a record 9.7 per cent for all of 2021. The increase set an annual record and provides further evidence that inflation is still present at all levels of the United States (US) economy. The report follows Wednesday’s release of consumer price data for December, which showed that inflation jumped at its fastest pace in nearly 40 years last month.

Many of the big tech companies with solid revenue and profits, such as Apple and Microsoft, will suffer less than their counterparts that have little revenue, but rosy projections, he said.

Even so, those big tech names also lost ground on Thursday. Apple fell 1.9 per cent and Microsoft fell 4.2 per cent.

Healthcare stocks, communication services firms and a mix of companies that rely on direct consumer spending were among the decliners. Pfizer fell two per cent, Facebook parent Meta Platforms dropped two per cent and Amazon slid 2.4 per cent.

Industrial companies were among the few gainers. Delta Air Lines rose 2.1 per cent after reporting surprisingly good fourth-quarter financial results. Other airlines also got a boost.

American Airlines rose 4.5 per cent and United Airlines rose 3.5 per cent.

US benchmark crude oil shed 33 cents to USD81.79 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the basis for pricing international oil, lost 15 cents to USD84.32 per barrel. The dollar weakened to JPY113.66 from JPY114.18. The euro rose to USD1.1476 from USD1.1457.