Asia stocks pressured on global growth worries, oil woes
Asian shares fell on Monday, extending weakness in global equity markets at the end of last week as soft Chinese economic data and falling oil prices rekindled anxiety about the outlook for world growth.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.17 percent in early trade. Australian shares were down 0.08 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index eased 0.12 percent.
A combination of weak factory-gate inflation data in China and low oil prices weighed on global stocks on Friday, dragging MSCI’s gauge of global stocks to its worst day in two weeks. The index was last 0.11 percent lower.
Risk asset markets have been under intense pressure recently as worries about a peak in earnings growth added to anxiety about slowing global trade and investment. A spike in U.S. bond yields, driven by the Federal Reserve’s commitment to keep raising borrowing costs, has also shaken emerging markets as investors poured money into U.S. dollar assets.
On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.77 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.92 percent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.65 percent.
The Wall Street losses came after the Fed had earlier in the week held rates steady but stayed on track to tighten policy next month.
The Fed’s stance disappointed some investors who had hoped that the rout in equities in October might have prompted policy makers to take a more cautious approach on the outlook for rates.
“Markets are pricing in a 25bp hike in December, with data flow suggesting pipeline inflation pressures are building,” analysts at ANZ said in a morning note.
Taking some pressure off a sharp drop in oil prices last week, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Sunday that the country plans to reduce its oil supply to world markets by 500,000 barrels per day in December, representing a global reduction of about 0.5 percent.
That helped to lift oil prices, with U.S. crude rising 0.90 percent to $60.73 a barrel and Brent crude gaining 1.13 percent to $70.97 per barrel.
However, the Saudi supply cut may prove to be a temporary solution to falling prices as global growth slows, with two of the world’s biggest economies – Germany and Japan – expected to report a contraction in output in the coming days.
“Supply-side surprises appear to be the main culprit, but concern that global demand is slowing may also be creeping into markets and weighing on risk appetite,” the ANZ analysts said.
In currency markets, the dollar rose 0.07 percent against the yen to 113.90, and the euro was down 0.06 percent on the day at $1.1327.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was up at 97.004.
The British pound was off 0.3 percent to fetch $1.2934. The sterling has been under pressure over the past few weeks as investors worried whether an orderly Brexit deal would be achieved.
Spot gold gained 0.15 percent to $1,211.03 per ounce.