Asian Shares Fall On Economic Recovery Concerns

Asian stocks ended lower on Thursday as Europe grapples with a second wave of coronavirus infections and data showed business activity in the United States and Europe cooled in September due to new restrictions to quell the virus.

A series of warnings from U.S. Federal Reserve officials also underscored investor worries over the resilience of the economic recovery.

The U.S. economy is recovering very robustly, but we’re still in a deep hole, said Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida in an interview on Wednesday.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said the recovery remains narrow and isn’t sustainable.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell noted that despite progress in rebounding from the coronavirus economic downturn, “there is a long way to go.”

Chinese shares followed Wall Street lower on economic recovery concerns. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 56.53 points, or 1.7 percent, to 3,223.18, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged 431.44 points, or 1.8 percent, to 23,311.07.

Japanese shares fell sharply after data showed the speed of recovery in U.S. business activity slowed in September. Rising Covid-19 infections in Europe coupled with uncertainties surrounding the U.S. presidential elections and the U.S. stimulus package also spooked investors.

The Nikkei 225 Index slumped 258.67 points, or 1.1 percent, to 23,087.82, while the broader Topix closed 1.1 percent lower at 1,626.44.

Steelmakers JFE Holdings and Kobe Steel fell 6.1 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively. Automakers Honda Motor, Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor gave up 2-4 percent.

Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings tumbled 3 percent after reports that it failed to count some postal votes for about 1,000 companies ahead of annual general meetings.

Australian stocks fell notably as fresh coronavirus-induced curbs globally dented hopes of a swift economic recovery.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 48 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,875.90 after climbing 2.4 percent in the previous session. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 54.80 points, or 0.9 percent, at 6,056.50.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto slipped 0.7 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Gold miners Northern Star Resources, Evolution Mining and Newcrest lost 3-5 percent as bullion prices extended losses into a fourth session to hit a more-than-two-month low.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay slumped 5.8 percent after announcing changes to its executive team. Appen and WiseTech Global fell around 2 percent after U.S. technology stocks suffered massive losses overnight.

Westpac Banking Corp ended little changed with a negative bias after it agreed to pay a A$1.3 billion ($920 million) fine for breaches of money-laundering and counter-terrorism laws. Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum and Santos declined around 2 percent.

Seoul stocks plunged to hit a more than one-month low as hopes of a quick economic recovery faded and tensions on the Korean Peninsula resurfaced. The benchmark Kospi plummeted 60.54 points, or 2.6 percent, to 2,272.70.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics gave up 1.4 percent, chemical maker LG Chem declined 3 percent, steelmaker POSCO slid 3.6 percent and pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics shed 4.5 percent.

New Zealand shares ended off their day’s lows, with the benchmark NZX-50 index closing 14.73 points, or 0.1 percent, lower at 11,689.89 on recessionary fears.

Chorus fell 2.6 percent, Vista Group International lost 2.3 percent and Ebos Group declined 1.9 percent.

New Zealand posted a merchandise trade deficit of NZ$353 million in August, Statistics New Zealand said today in a report. That follows the upwardly revised NZ$447 million trade surplus in July (originally NZ$282 million). Exports were up an annual 8.6 percent, while imports tumbled 16 percent from last year.

U.S. stocks tumbled overnight to close at their lowest levels in well over a month after data showed business activity cooled in September.

The stimulus stalemate in Congress and worries that coronavirus infections could rise also heightened concerns about the economy, with President Donald Trump indicating the U.S. would not follow the U.K.’s lead and implement a second round of lockdowns.
The Dow lost 1.9 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plunged 3 percent and the S&P 500 slumped 2.4 percent.

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