Hong Kong leads Asia markets down

3 January, 2019 12:00 AM printer

HONG KONG: Asian markets sank Wednesday, starting the new year by extending a slide that made 2018 the worst in a decade, with investors jolted by data reinforcing weakness in China’s economy.

With a number of potential banana skins dotting the next 12 months —including the China-US trade row and Brexit — dealers are keeping to the sidelines as they look for signs of stability, reports AFP.

Hong Kong led the losses, tumbling more than two percent, while Shanghai shed one percent after two indicators showed Chinese manufacturing activity shrank in December.

The readings, from the government and another a private survey, are the latest to highlight problems in the world’s number two economy following a slew of downbeat figures including on trade, factory output and inflation.  “The disappointment that came through in December has transferred into January as well,” Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia, told Bloomberg News.

She added that the reading was a reminder of the US-China trade tensions and “brings back to the surface worries on growth”.

There were also market losses in Sydney, which dropped 0.7 percent, while Seoul shed one percent and Singapore slipped 0.9 percent. Taipei and Jakarta also fell. Tokyo and Wellington were closed for public holidays.

Investors were also spooked by the ongoing US government shutdown, which is now in its second week.

Donald Trump on Tuesday invited leaders from both parties to talks to end the standoff but with Democrats refusing to pass any budget that would fund the president’s Mexican border wall there is little optimism a deal can be made.