Asian stocks tumbled on Thursday, as a surge in COVID-19 cases spurred lockdowns in the southern Chinese manufacturing hub of Guangzhou and uncertainty continued over the outcome of the U.S. midterm elections.
Pundits predicted a giant Republican wave, but it didn’t happen. Republicans closed in on House majority, while the Senate is still up for grabs.
A crash in the crypto market also dented investors’ appetite for riskier assets. The dollar lost some of its overnight gains and U.S. Treasury yields remained pressured ahead of the release of key U.S. inflation data later in the day that is expected to show some moderation in price growth.
Gold edged higher in Asian trading, while oil extended losses for a fourth day running on concerns that new COVID curbs in China, the world’s biggest crude importer, will impact fuel demand.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.4 percent to 3,036.16 amid growing concerns over an economic slowdown and strict anti-COVID policies.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended down 1.7 percent at 16,081.04, falling for a third straight session amid an aversion to technology stocks.
Japanese shares fell as investors awaited U.S. inflation data for hints to the Fed’s rate outlook. The Nikkei 225 Index fell 1.0 percent to 27,446.10, while the broader Topix closed 0.7 percent lower at 1,936.66.
Market heavyweight SoftBank lost 2.7 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing gave up 1 percent. Honda Motor plummeted 4 percent despite posting a 16 percent increase in quarterly profit.
Seoul stocks snapped a four-day winning streak as investors watched the results of the U.S. midterm elections and ongoing volatility in the cryptocurrency markets. The Kospi slid 0.9 percent to 2,402.23.
Australian markets also snapped a four-session winning streak, as mining and energy stocks succumbed to selling pressure on growing concerns over China’s prolonged zero-COVID policy.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped half a percent to 6,964.00, while the broader All Ordinaries Index fell 0.6 percent to 7,145.70.
Origin Energy shares soared 34.8 percent after the power producer and energy retailer backed an A$18.4 billion non-binding takeover bid from a consortium led by Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management.
Xero slumped 10.9 percent after reporting a wider loss for the first half of fiscal 2023 and replacing its CEO.
Perpetual jumped 14.8 percent after the investment fund and trustee group rejected a sweetened A$1.85 billion acquisition offer from EQT-owned Barings Private Equity Asia (BPEA) and Regal Partners.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index shed 0.5 percent to end at 11,091.93.
U.S. stocks tumbled overnight after rising for three straight sessions. There was uncertainty around the outcome of a tightly contested election as the GOP’s midterm ‘red wave’ failed to materialize.
The Dow lost 2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plunged 2.5 percent and the S&P 500 plummeted 2.1 percent.
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