Asia stocks drop to 17-month low

  • 09/10/2018
Asia stocks drop to 17-month low
Photo credit: iStock

Europe battled to fend off a four-day losing streak for world stocks on Tuesday, after weary investors watched Asia stumble to a 17-month low and bond markets hit by a fresh bout of selling.

Italy's benchmark 10-year government bond yield also moved towards a 4-1/2-year high as Economy Minister Giovanni Tria struck a resolute tone on his controversial budget plans in Rome's parliament.

There was plenty more to keep the stress levels elevated.

The International Monetary Fund downgraded its global growth forecast on Monday for the first time since 2016.

Pakistan's rupee slumped about 5 per cent in an apparent devaluation ahead of what looks likely to be another IMF program.

"It all feels like it's quite nervous here over whether things going to break (out of ranges) or not," said Saxo Bank's head of FX Strategy John Hardy.

He pointed to the rising US and Japanese government bond yields which tend to set the bar for borrowing costs globally as well as the latest pressure on China's yuan.

China's central bank fixed its yuan rate at 6.9019 per dollar on Tuesday, so breaching the 6.9000 barrier and leading speculators to push the dollar up to 6.9120 in the spot market.

The drop should be a positive for exporters and did help Shanghai blue chips edge up 0.3 percent. Yet that followed a 4.3 percent slide on Monday which was the largest daily fall since early 2016.

Japan's Nikkei fell 1.3 percent, hurt in part by a rise in the safe-harbour yen and as yields on Tokyo's government bonds tested the 0.15 percent cap the Bank of Japan effectively has on them.

"Risk sentiment is in a foul mood and stocks are sinking everywhere," JPMorgan analysts said in a note.

"With Chinese economic momentum continuing to weaken alongside increasing pressure from the United States, currency weakness is the obvious release valve," they warned. "A lurch through the 7.0 level by year end is possible."

On Wall Street, futures were pointing lower again. The tech-heavy Nasdaq had fallen for the third straight day on Monday and growth stocks were pressured by worries rising bond yields might ultimately hobble the economy.

Reuters