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ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Skid After Wall Street Sinks Into Correction Territory

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02/09/2018 | 04:14am CET

By Lucy Craymer

Stocks in Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong all down at least 3%

The latest plunge in global stocks hit Asia Pacific on Friday after late heavy selling in the U.S. left the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 in correction territory for the first time in two years.

Chinese big caps slumped again after underperforming Thursday. The Shanghai Composite dropped 3.5% to hit eight-month lows, just two weeks after hitting its latest two-year high.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng gave up the rest of its gains for 2018, after coming into Friday's trading as one of few in the region still not having turned lower for the year. It was recently down 3.7%.

Also pressured by renewed safe-haven flows into the yen, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 3.3%, putting this week's slump at 9% -- on pace for the biggest such drop since the heavy global selling of February 2016.

"The markets are trying to navigate the prospect of increased interest-rate hikes...as inflation potentially appears," said Stuart Ive, private client manager at OM Financial in Wellington. "As with any one-way bet, like equities have been since 2009, there comes a point where the game changes. This looks like now."

A number of indexes are on track to log their worst week in at least two years by the end of Friday's trading. Market talk continues to focus on whether the past week's selling has just been an overdue pullback after big 2017 gains for many stock markets globally or the start of a sustained decline.

Deutsche Bank expects "market turbulence" to continue this year, as pullbacks and volatility become more common in the wake of rising interest rates and bond yields, said chief economist David Folkerts-Landau. But "more volatility should not derail the underlying economic expansion or fundamentally dent risk assets."

South Korea's Kospi and Taiwan's Taiex were down more than 2%, with the latter hitting eight-month lows. Singapore's benchmark fell 2%, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was holding up with a 1.5% decline.

S&P 500 futures were recently off 0.1% after the index's 3.8% skid Thursday, much of it occurring in the last hour of trading.

That selling came despite Treasury yields moving little Thursday. Rising yields had been cited as a key factor in equities' turn over the past week, but 10-year Treasury yields on Thursday remained about 2.85%, around four-year highs. They were recently at 2.83%.

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at Oanda, said it felt like the market was targeting 3% yield for 10-year Treasurys "given the rapid moves over the past few weeks." He believes that once reached, "the markets will relax and hopefully come back. In the meantime, I think while bond desks are chasing bond yields...equity markets are going to continue to struggle."

Meanwhile, Congress still needs to vote Thursday night on an agreement to keep the federal government from partially shutting down at midnight.

Oil futures fell another 1% in Asia after Iran announced plans to increase output by about 700,000 barrels a day within the next three to four years. Copper has also hit 2018 lows, but ANZ doesn't see that market's weakness lasting given risks of further supply disruptions remain high.

Elsewhere, gold prices were little changed Friday, seeing limited safe-haven flows.

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