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Asian Stock Markets Slump on Profit-Taking, Pandemic Uncertainty, Trade Tensions

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Last updated: 07/16/2020 07:08:51

07:08 AM EDT, 07/16/2020 (MT Newswires) -- Asian stock markets retreated Thursday, as investors booked profits from recent rallies and concerns grew about renewed government lockdowns in the face of rising COVID-19 infections from the US to India to Tokyo. Beijing-Washington tensions added to risk-off sentiment, said analysts. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo all lost ground, as did regional exchanges excepting Mumbai.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 opened lower and slumped in trading, finishing down 0.8%. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 286 new virus cases on Thursday, a record daily high, refreshing concerns of anti-virus lockdowns.

The Nikkei 225 fell 175.14 to 22,770.36, although gaining issues outnumbered losers 126 to 96,

Leading the upside on a mixed day were Nissan Motor (NSANY, 7201:Tokyo), up 6.1%, followed by airline ANA (ALNPY, 9292:Tokyo), up 5.7%, and then electrical-equipment maker Fujikura (5801:Tokyo), up 4.9% after a Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities price target upgrade.

On the downside were the former Yahoo Japan, Z Holdings (YAHOY, 4687:Tokyo), off 4.5%, and then Chugai Pharmaceuticals (CHGCY, 4519:Tokyo), off 4.3%.

In economic news, Japan's economy will likely shrink 4.7% in the 12 months through March 2021, and inflation will post at 0.5%, due to COVID-19 lockdowns and the global recession, the Bank of Japan predicted on Wednesday.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng Index opened evenly but slumped to finish down 2.0%, as investor sentiment cooled and traders booked profits after recent stock market gains, said analysts. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite fell back 4.5%, despite China reporting Thursday that Q2 GDP was up 3.2% year-over-year, snapping the economic downturn. However, Beijing has been dropping hints it considers the equities market to be overheated, noted market watchers.

The Hang Seng fell 510.89 to 24,970.69, as losing issues outnumbered gainers 43 to five.

Leading the upside on a down day were subway operator MTR (66:HK), up 0.9%, followed by the Bank of China HK (2388:HK), also up 0.9%, and then Hang Seng Bank (11:HK), up 0.6%

On the downside were Geely Automaker (175:HK), off 12.0% after hitting a 52-week high Wednesday, and then China Life (2628:HK), off 6.1%.

In economic news, Beijing reported Q2 GDP rose 3.2% year-over-year, after falling 6.8% in Q1 due to COVID-19 lockdowns, and other restrictions.

On the other exchanges, the S. Korean Kospi fell 0.8%; the Taiwan TWSE declined 0.4%; the Australian ASX 200 fell 0.7%; the Singapore Straits Times Index fell 1.0%, and the Thai Set declined 0.5%. In late trading in Mumbai, the Sensex was up 1.2%.

The MSCI Asia Apex 50, a broad measure of large-cap Asian stocks outside Japan, fell 2.0%.

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