Mideast crisis and weak growth weigh on Asian markets

Mideast crisis and weak growth weigh on Asian markets

The Israel-Hamas conflict continues to weigh heavily on global markets
The Israel-Hamas conflict continues to weigh heavily on global markets. Photo: Jack Guez / AFP
Source: AFP

Asian markets recovered ground on Tuesday with traders weighed down by unpredictability over the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and key earnings and economic data releases expected later in the week.

Volatile US Treasury yields had affected Monday trading on Wall Street where some indexes rebounded after a sluggish start but the S&P 500 suffered its lowest close since May.

That uncertainty transferred to the Asian trading day with both Hong Kong and Tokyo trading down before the Nikkei 225 staged a late recovery at the close while the Hang Seng Index continued slumping.

The rising bond yield has increased worries that Federal Reserve interest rates will stay higher for longer, denting the growth outlook.

"The rise of the 10-year US bond yield and worries that the Middle East situation may deteriorate continued to weigh on the Tokyo market," Nomura Securities said.

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After shares fell for the better part of the day, late bargain-hunting saw Tokyo end in the green. Seoul, Taipei, Jakarta, Singapore and Sydney also found themselves in positive territory.

But these concerns, as well as an upcoming report on third-quarter US growth and September personal income and spending that includes key inflation data, weighed on Hong Kong, which ended down 1.1 percent.

"The current economic environment presents a confusing backdrop, making it incredibly challenging to make a definitive equity market trading assessment," said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management.

"Geopolitical concerns and a weaker growth outlook are seemingly weighing more heavily on equities."

The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note had topped five percent for the first time in 16 years on Monday but moved lower later in the day.

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Shanghai traded higher throughout the day to recover from its worst start to the week in months on Monday after China's sovereign wealth fund purchased exchange-traded funds to boost the country's diving stock markets.

"Authorities are making it a rule to step on the brakes whenever there looks like there's overwhelming downward momentum," Raymond Chen, fund manager at Zizhou Investment Asset Management, told Bloomberg.

"This does help somewhat ease the panic, assuring investors that the nation will continue offering support if it drops further."

Europe's major bourses opened largely flat, with London starting just off while Paris and Frankfurt nudged into the green before retreating.

The war in Gaza had also hammered oil prices on Monday after major gains last week but crude was once again higher in Asian trade.

"Geopolitical risks have led to divergent movements in commodity markets," Innes said.

"While geopolitical tensions have contributed to a rising geopolitical risk premium for oil, no physical oil supply disruptions have occurred, taking some of the heat out of the rally."

Read also

Markets fall again and oil rises on Middle East, Fed fears

While markets see-sawed, bitcoin crossed $35,000 for the first time since May last year.

Innes said the surge was caused by "growing exhilaration among investors regarding the potential approval of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund".

Key figures around 0815 GMT

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.1 percent at 16,991.53 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 31,062.35 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.8 percent at 2,962.24 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.33 percent at 7,350.72

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.1 percent at 14,788.36

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.01 percent at 6,850.09

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 149.44 yen from 149.67 yen

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0686 from $1.0670

Pound/dollar: FLAT at $1.2249 from $1.2248

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.95 pence from 87.09 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.4 percent at $85.80 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.4 percent at $90.16 per barrel

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.6 percent at 32,936.41 (close)

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Source: AFP

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