Asia markets follow Wall Street to dip at open
Asian markets opened mostly lower on Friday, following a weak lead from Wall Street and as investors awaited a key US inflation report due later in the day.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.27 percent to 24,188.24 while Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.57 percent.
Shanghai also slipped.
During the previous trading day, European and US stock markets dropped as traders tracked developments surrounding the Omicron coronavirus variant and fallout from the Chinese property crisis.
That snapped a three-day rally that had lifted Wall Street back near record territory.
The Dow ended flat but the Nasdaq and S&P 500 both fell, despite data showing new filings for US unemployment aid dropped sharply last week, bringing them to levels not seen since 1969 for the second time this year.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index shed 0.2 percent after the UK government tightened virus restrictions in England.
“It is clear that the momentum we saw at the start of the week has well and truly faded,” said analyst Fawad Razaqzada at ThinkMarkets.
“Investors are wary of the major central bank meetings coming up next week and are unwilling to have too much exposure ahead of those.”
Traders were awaiting the latest US consumer price data, set for release Friday, which is expected to show inflation climbing higher last month.
And next week, a Federal Reserve meeting might offer clues as to the pace of tapering and interest rate increases.
Key figures at the Fed “have signalled a hawkish shift in their policy stance, catalysed by increasing discomfort with elevated inflation against a backdrop of robust growth and ongoing strengthening in labour markets conditions”, Morgan Stanley economists and strategists said in a note Thursday.
“We revise our Fed call and now expect the (Federal Open Market Committee) to begin raising rates in Sept. 2022 — two quarters earlier than our prior forecast.”
Elsewhere in Asia Friday, Seoul, Taipei and Wellington were down slightly, as was Singapore.
Investors were also concerned about the debt crisis in China’s property sector.
Two major Chinese property firms have defaulted on $1.6 billion worth of bonds to overseas creditors, Fitch Ratings agency said Thursday.
Fitch confirmed Evergrande defaulted for the first time on more than $1.2 billion worth of bond debt, as it downgraded the firm’s status to a restricted default rating.
– Key figures around 0210 GMT –
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.27 percent at 24,188.24
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.30 percent at 3,661.88
New York – Dow: FLAT at 35,754.69 (close)
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.20 percent at $70.80 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.17 percent at $74.29 per barrel
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1298 from $1.1135
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.40 yen from 113.75 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at 1.3233 from 1.3200
Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.38 from 85.87 pence
— Bloomberg News contributed to this report —