World Economy

Asian Shares Slide on Risk Aversion

The Shanghai Stock ExchangeThe Shanghai Stock Exchange

Asian stocks fell broadly on Tuesday as economic and political uncertainty gripped global markets. Given the worries about the political landscape in Europe and lingering uncertainty surrounding US President Donald Trump’s fiscal and trade policies, investors were apprehensive about holding riskier assets. 

Safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen and gold gained ground as risk appetite waned. China’s Shanghai Composite index slid 3.90 points or 0.12% to 3,153.09 as the People’s Bank of China refrained from adding cash into the system for a third straight session, underlining its tightening bias to deflate potential credit bubbles in the world’s second-largest economy, RTTNews reported.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 28 points or 0.12% at 23,319 in late trade ahead of data expected to show that China’s forex reserves have fallen for the seventh straight month.

The Nikkei average ended down 65.93 points or 0.35% at 18,910.78, a two-week low, while the broader Topix index closed 0.28% lower at 1,516.15, closing in the red for the first time in three days. Toyota Motor tumbled 2.3% after reporting a drop in quarterly operating profit.

Australian shares bucked the regional trend to end a tad higher as the country’s central bank held interest rates steady at record low 1.5%, as expected, and a survey showed activity in Australia’s construction sector contracted at a slower pace in January.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 inched up 6.30 points or 0.11% to 5,621.90, while the broader All Ordinaries index closed 7.20 points or 0.13% higher at 5,672.60.

Miners closed broadly higher, with Fortescue Metals Group rising as much as 2.5%, even as iron ore prices stumbled. Gold minders Evolution, Regis, Northern Star and Newcrest climbed 3-4% to extend recent gains. Toll road developer Transurban Group soared 6.4% on reporting a 42% jump in first-half profit.

Oil & gas producer Santos fell 1.3% after oil futures suffered their largest single-day loss since mid-January on Monday, hit by a stronger dollar and data suggesting an increase in crude at the central US storage hub.

Seoul shares drifted lower as investors remained concerned about Trump’s anti-immigration and protectionism measures. The benchmark Kospi slipped 2.45 points or 0.12% to 2,075.21, with market bellwether Samsung Electronics closing 1.9% lower at 1,941,000 won. Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and Naver climbed 2-3%.

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