World Economy

Global Share Sell-Off Hits Asia

Global Share Sell-Off Hits AsiaGlobal Share Sell-Off Hits Asia

A global stock market sell-off pulled shares lower in Asia on Wednesday as investors grew cautious following losses on Wall Street sparked by a delayed health care vote. Sentiment was clouded in Europe by speculation that European Central Bank stimulus may be wound down if conditions improve.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng led declines, falling as much as 0.7%. By late afternoon it was down 0.6% at 25,690.90 while Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.5% to 20,130.41. South Korea's Kospi shed 0.4% to 2,382.56. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China lost 0.5% to 3,175.60, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7% to 5,755.70, news outlets reported.

Upbeat comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi about prospects for the 19-country eurozone were taken as a hint that policy change may be in the pipeline even though he did not mention plans to dial back stimulus measures. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.8% to close at 2,419.38. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 0.5% to 21,310.66. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.6% to 6,146.62.

Financial spreadbetters see weaker openings for European markets, with Britain's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 all seen losing ground in early trade.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4%, pulling further away from more than two-year highs probed earlier this week. On Monday, it touched its highest level since May 2015.

The yield on US Benchmark 10-year treasury notes stood at 2.213% in Asian trade, above its US close of 2.198% on Tuesday. It rose from 2.14% late on Monday after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen said that it is appropriate to gradually raise US rates.

Oil futures fell, with benchmark US crude slipping 14 cents to $44.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 86 cents, or 2%, to settle at $44.24 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent, the international standard, lost 7 cents to $46.85 per barrel in London.

European currencies edged higher. The Danish krone traded at 6.544 to the dollar, compared with the 6.6 handle seen for most of June. The Swiss franc traded at 0.959 to the dollar, compared with levels around the 0.97 handle seen earlier.

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