Asian Shares Tumble With Fed Minutes In Focus

Asian stocks tumbled on Thursday, with renewed worries about slowing global growth and uncertainty over Federal Reserve policy moves keeping investors nervous.

Chinese and Hong Kong shares ended lower after China published detailed rules aimed at tackling unfair competition and companies’ handling of critical data.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 19.73 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,465.55, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged 550.68 points, or 2.1 percent, to 25,316.33.

Tencent Holdings declined 3.4 percent in Hong Kong after saying its quarterly revenue grew at the slowest pace since early 2019.

Japanese shares fell sharply to hit a seven-month low after reports emerged that Toyota Motor will cut its global output for September by 40 percent due to chip shortages.

The Nikkei 225 Index slumped 304.74 points, or 1.1 percent, to 27,281.17, while the broader Topix closed 1.4 percent lower at 1,897.19.

Toyota Motor shares tumbled 4.4 percent, while Subaru retreated 2.8 percent, Honda Motor gave up 2.7 percent, Nissan Motor declined 2.6 percent and Mitsubishi Motors shed 2.4 percent. Oil companies Inpex and Japan Petroleum fell 3.7 percent and 2.20 percent, respectively.

Australian markets ended lower as a slump in commodity prices and COVID-19 woes overshadowed upbeat jobs data.

The unemployment rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 4.6 percent in July, well beneath expectations for 5.0 percent and down from 4.9 percent in June. The economy added 2,200 jobs last month versus expectations for the loss of 46,200 jobs.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 37.50 points, or half a percent, to 7,464.60, extending losses to a fourth consecutive session.

The broader All Ordinaries index ended down 35.40 points, or 0.5 percent, at 7,735.30 as Sydney continued to break records for new daily coronavirus cases and the state of Victoria reported its biggest rise in COVID-19 caseload this year.

Miners fell for the fifth day running, with BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto all tumbling around 6 percent. Origin Energy slumped 4.1 percent after it posted a A$2.29 billion full-year loss.

Treasury Wine Estates dropped 1.5 percent after its fiscal 2021 profit missed analysts’ estimates. Gold miner Evolution Mining advanced 1.8 percent after it reported a 14 percent rise in its annual net profit.

Casino outfit The Star Entertainment jumped 6.8 percent after it swung back into the black during the 2021 financial year.

Seoul stocks slumped as investors pondered the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulus-tapering timeline. The benchmark Kospi plunged 61.10 points, or 1.9 percent, to settle at 3,097.83. That marked the index’s biggest daily loss since February 26 and the lowest closing level since early April.

Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and Naver all fell over 1 percent, while automaker Hyundai Motor lost 2.8 percent. On the positive side, Kakao Bank surged 8.9 percent.

New Zealand shares bucked the weak regional trend to end sharply higher as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signaled hopes to tame the latest virus spread in the country. The benchmark NZX-50 Index jumped 238.09 points, or 1.9 percent, to 12,956.97, a day after the Reserve Bank refrained from raising interest rates.

U.S. stocks fell for a second straight session overnight after minutes of the July Fed meeting revealed an emerging consensus among policymakers to begin tapering asset purchases in coming months.

Fed officials widely concluded that the economy had reached its goal on inflation and was “close to being satisfied” with the progress of job growth.

The Dow and the S&P 500 both lost about 1.1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.9 percent.

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