In Asian Equity Markets Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 2.26 percent in early trade, with shares of Chinese tech heavy weight Tencent falling more than 2 percent. The Shanghai composite fell 0.73 percent while the Shenzhen composite shed 0.81 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.70 percent in early trade while the Topix index declined by 1.43 percent. South Korea’s Kospi also shed 0.89 percent, as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 1.69 percent. In Australia, the ASX 200 fell more than 0.7 percent in afternoon trade, with its sectors mixed.
In Currency Markets the US dollar fell against the yen on Thursday as growing investor aversion to riskier assets hit equities and pushed down U.S. Treasury yields. The U.S. currency fell 0.4 percent to 112.72 yen, handing back its modest gains made overnight. The yen, often sought in times of market unrest, made strides against other peers as well. The euro lost 0.4 percent to 127.87 yen, the Australian dollar slumped 1 percent to 81.45 yen and the pound fell 0.5 percent to 143.40 yen. The Australian dollar, sensitive to swings in risk sentiment, was down 0.7 percent at $0.7220 .
In Commodities Markets oil prices fell along with weak stock markets on Thursday, but trading was tepid ahead of a meeting by producer group OPEC that is expected to result in a supply cut aimed at draining a glut that has pulled down crude prices by 30 percent since October. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.66 per barrel, down 23 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close. International Brent crude oil futures were down 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $61.49 per barrel.
In US Equity Markets trading was closed on Wednesday for a national day of mourning for former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday.
In Bond Markets spreads between two- and 10-year U.S. Treasury yields tightened towards their narrowest in more than a decade in Asian hours on Thursday as government bond trade reopened following a U.S. financial market holiday. The difference between the two-year Treasury yield and the 10-year yield contracted to 10.1 basis points versus 11.7 bps on Tuesday, continuing a shift in the shape of the curve that started earlier this week and has spooked investors. The spread is now near the narrowest it has been since mid-2007.