Asian stocks fell on Wednesday as the impasse in the U.S. Congress on raising the debt limit and avoiding a default before the October 18th deadline added to worries over inflation and higher interest rates.
Chinese markets remained closed for Golden Week holidays. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended down 137.66 points, or 0.6 percent, at 23,966.49 after a survey showed the country’s private sector expanded at a slower pace in September.
Japanese shares fell sharply on concerns over higher interest rates, China’s slowdown and modest approval ratings for the country’s new prime minister.
The Nikkei 225 Index slumped 293.25 points, or 1.1 percent, to 27,528.87 – closing at a more than six-week low amid weakness among heavyweights. The broader Topix closed 0.3 percent lower at 1,941.91.
Tokyo Electron, SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing lost 2-3 percent, while banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial climbed 2-4 percent on hopes higher rates would boost their profits.
Australian markets fell, with banks leading the losses after the banking regulator tightened up home loan rules and flagged possible further action, saying risks to financial stability could be building.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 41.90 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,206.50, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 40.30 points, or 0.5 percent, at 7,496.20. The big four banks fell between 0.6 percent and 2 percent.
Buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay jumped 3 percent and software solution provider TechnologyOne added 1.8 percent after tech stocks such as Microsoft and Apple spearheaded a strong rebound in growth stocks on Wall Street overnight.
Seoul stocks fell for a third day running after data showed inflation in the country remained above the central bank’s annual 2 percent target for a sixth consecutive month in September.
Concerns over the debt crises of Chinese property developers and the lack of progress in talks between U.S. lawmakers to raise the debt ceiling also weighed on markets.
The benchmark Kospi tumbled 53.86 points, or 1.8 percent, to close at 2,908.31, marking the lowest finish since December 30th last year. Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, Samsung Biologics and Celltrion lost 1-3 percent.
New Zealand shares declined, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index ending down 33.55 points, or 0.3 percent, at 13,166.44 as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand hiked interest rates for the first time in seven years and signaled further tightening to come so as to maintain low inflation and support maximum sustainable employment.
U.S. stocks rose overnight as a measure of services industry activity rose in September despite supply chain troubles and a key lawmaker said the Senate will vote on Wednesday on a Democratic-backed measure to suspend the U.S. debt ceiling.
The Dow gained 0.9 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied 1.3 percent and the S&P 500 added 1.1 percent.
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