HONG KONG: Asian markets sank on Wednesday, extending the previous day’s losses, with energy firms tracking a sell-off in commodities and technology firms facing further struggles.
The losses followed sharp drops across Europe and New York as Britain struggles to hammer out a Brexit deal with the European Union and traders remain cautious about US lawmakers’ ability to push through tax cut measures.
A rally in global equity markets has run into headwinds in recent weeks as dealers wind down for the end of the year and the US probe into Russia’s alleged election meddling sows uncertainty.
A key drag for Asia on Wednesday were copper prices, which sank more than four percent in London, having already lost about 10 percent over the previous week with analysts blaming a pick-up in the dollar on hopes for US tax cuts.
There are also worries about China’s crackdown on borrowing-fuelled investing.
“The sentiment in China has turned less positive after the conclusion of the National Party Congress, as the deleveraging rhetoric has returned to the market, especially with regards to real estate speculation,” TD Securities commodity strategist Ryan McKay told Bloomberg News.
“Worries of the deleveraging’s impact on real estate and construction demand saw optimism for commodity demand reduced and prices retreat.”
Also, oil prices were hit by data showing a big rise in US inventories.
Sydney-listed miners Rio Tinto and BHP were all both down around two percent, while energy giant Woodside Petroleum lost 0.2 percent. CNOOC, Sinopec and PetroChina sank in Hong Kong while Inpex suffered a 1.7 percent drop in Tokyo.
The losses hit wider markets. Tokyo ended the morning 0.9 percent lower.
Hong Kong lost 0.6 percent, leaving it more than five percent off its 10-year peak touched just over a fortnight
Shanghai also slipped 0.6 percent and Sydney was 0.2 percent lower following weaker-than-forecast economic growth data, which also dragged the Australian dollar on expectations the country’s central bank will not lift interest rates any time soon.
Singapore and Seoul both gave up 0.5 percent, while Taipei shed more than one percent and Wellington dropped 0.3 percent.
Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, said since the US tax cuts look set to be agreed, the fall in prices could be caused by a so-called “buying the rumour, sell the (almost) fact”, mixed with profit-taking following a healthy run-up this year.