Losses on Wall Street Rip Through Asian Financial Markets
A stock market rout that started on Wall Street rolled through Asia, driving China’s benchmark to a four-year low Thursday and knocking down indexes in Japan, Korea and Australia.
The Shanghai Composite index plunged 5.2 percent to its lowest level since November 2014, and Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell by an unusually wide margin of almost 4 percent. Markets across Southeast Asia recorded similar declines. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 3.7 percent to 25,220.67. The Kospi in South Korea fell 4.4 percent to 2,129.67. Stocks also plunged in Taiwan and fell across Southeast Asia.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks slumped as concerns over rising interest rates and trade tensions caused a sell-off in technology and internet stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst loss in eight months, falling 3.1 percent to 25,598.74.
The S&P 500 index sank 3.3 percent to 2,785.68. The Nasdaq composite, which has a large contingent of technology stocks, was 4.1 percent lower at 7,422.05. It has fallen 7.5 percent in just five days.
Investors are wary of possible further U.S. interest rate hikes, which will raise the cost of corporate borrowing and weigh on economic growth.
President Donald Trump said the Federal Reserve “is making a mistake” with its campaign of rate increases. “I think the Fed has gone crazy,” he charged.
“Equity investors are surprised by the pace at which rates have risen,” said Marcella Chow, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management in a report.
Sentiment also has been dampened by the spreading U.S.-Chinese tariff fight over Beijing’s technology policy. The International Monetary Fund cut its outlook for global growth this week, citing interest rates and trade tensions.
The U.S. Treasury is to release a currency report that some analysts suggest might change the official stance on China’s exchange rate policy. Chow said it was unclear whether the Treasury might label Beijing a “currency manipulator,” a status that could trigger penalties, or whether it could be “another pre-text for the next round of tariffs.”
EU Says Brexit Deal 'Within Reach' but Work Remains
The European Union's Brexit negotiator said Wednesday that an agreement on Britain's exit ``is within reach'' if negotiations make progress ahead of a summit next week.
Michel Barnier said that up to 85 percent of the work on a deal is done but that the issue remains of how to ensure a transparent border on the island of Ireland.
He offered suggestions to make sure border checks are be kept to a minimum. Yet he also warned that some British proposals as they stood would give the U.K. too much of a competitive trade advantage.
With good will from both sides, he said, "agreement is within reach if we have the negotiations on the 17th of October," when Theresa May will meet her 27 counterparts in Brussels.
EU Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters Wednesday that Barnier and his team "are working day and night to reach a deal."
Britain is to leave the EU on March 29 and the possibility of there being no deal on future relations – particularly trade – is worrying businesses and politicians.
As part of the EU, Britain benefits from seamless trade with the bloc, its biggest trading partner. And the question is how to let Britain exit the EU without too much disruption to trade and without reinstalling a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Britain's Northern Ireland.