Asian Stocks Tumble On Risk-off Sentiment

(RTTNews) - Asian stocks tumbled on Thursday after Washington opened a new front in its trade war with Europe, adding to uncertainty surrounding the U.S.-China trade war. Weak U.S. data also rekindled investor concerns about slowing global growth.

The U.S. proposed to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion of goods from the European Union as part of a long-running complaint over subsidies given to the European plane maker Airbus. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said that the tariffs will take effect on October 18.

Markets in South Korea and China were closed for public holidays. Hong Kong shares ended up 0.26 percent at 26,110.31. Media reports suggested that Hong Kong will use an emergency ordinance for the first time in more than a half a century in order to ban face masks at public gatherings.

Japanese shares tumbled as weak U.S. data offered fresh evidence of the damaging effects of the U.S.-China trade war. Investors also reacted to the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealing that the services sector in Japan continued to expand in September, albeit at a slower rate.

The Nikkei average slumped 436.87 points, or 2.01 percent, to 21,341.74, the lowest level since September 9. The broader Topix index closed 1.72 percent lower at 1,568.87, a more than three-week low.

Automakers Toyota Motor, Honda Motor, Nissan and Suzuki Motor declined 2-4 percent, pressured by a rising yen. Canon and Panasonic ended down over 2 percent each. Index heavyweight Fast Retailing plummeted 3.9 percent after its same-store sales fell 4.2 percent in September from a year earlier.

Australian markets sank after the release of weak U.S. data and the U.S. decision to impose new tariffs on a wide range of EU goods.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index hit more than one month lows before recovering some lost ground to end down 146.90 points, or 2.21 percent, at 6,493.

The broader All Ordinaries index fell 141.60 points, or 2.10 percent, to 6,611.70 amid a broad-based selloff, with gold stocks bucking the downward trend as gold prices surged on safe-haven buying.

National Australia Bank lost 3.5 percent, a day after the lender nearly doubled the cost of compensating customers for years of misconduct. The other three big banks fell between 2.4 percent and 2.8 percent.

Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum and Santos plunged 3-4 percent as oil held near the lowest level in almost two months.

Global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto gave up 3-4 percent while gold miners Evolution and Newcrest surged 2-3 percent.

Agricultural firm Webster jumped as much as 53 percent after it signed a deal for an A$854 million ($572.52 million) takeover by shareholder PSP Investments.

In economic news, Australia's trade surplus decreased in August as exports were down on weak commodity prices, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed today. However, a survey from IHS Markit showed that Australia's private sector recovered at the end of third quarter reflecting the improvement in the service sector.

New Zealand shares fell sharply, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ending the session down 130.43 points, or 1.19 percent, at 10,821.21. Dual-listed lenders such as ANZ and Westpac paced the decliners, while Fonterra Co-operative Group climbed 2.8 percent.

Singapore's Straits Times index was down half a percent. Private sector business in Singapore continued to contract in September, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from HIS Market revealed with a seven-year low PMI score of 48.3.

Overnight, U.S. stocks fell sharply for the second day in a row, with the major indexes falling to their lowest closing levels in over a month, as disappointing private-sector jobs data added to growth concerns.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1.9 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 1.6 percent and the S&P 500 lost 1.8 percent.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.