Asian markets sell-off on lingering China fears


AFP

HONG KONG — Asian shares tumbled again Monday, with Shanghai plunging over 5 percent, after more weak data reignited concerns about mainland China’s economy following a global stocks rout at the start of the year. After enjoying some minor relief on Friday, the region’s bourses were once again in the red as investors dumped equities. Oil prices also headed south, sitting around 12-year lows. Asia’s gains at the end of last week failed to reassure U.S. and European markets, which ended in negative territory Friday as a strong U.S. jobs report was overshadowed by fears about mainland China and its leaders’ ability to manage a slowdown. “The market is concerned about China’s financial stability,” Matthew Sherwood, head of investment strategy at asset managers Perpetual in Sydney, told Bloomberg News. “People are also quite nervous about the Chinese economic outlook. China is certainly slowing on a very gradual path down. A lot of people are fearing a hard landing is in play.” On Saturday official figures showed Chinese consumer prices picked up slightly in December but inflation remained about half the mainland authorities’ target. Prices paid at the factory gate, a guide to future inflation, also sank for a 46th consecutive month. The figures are the latest highlighting weakness in China, which is expected to have grown in 2015 at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century. On Monday Shanghai closed down 5.3 percent, while Hong Kong gave up 2.8 percent. Sydney and Seoul slipped 1.2 percent while Singapore was 2.0 percent off. Tokyo was closed for a public holiday. Investors extended losses from last week, which was one of the worst starts to a year on record with dealers rattled after trade was suspended twice in four days in Chinese markets.

Shanghai ended the week about 10 percent lower in echoes of a sell-off that fuelled global turmoil in the summer. In Europe, stocks were steady at the start of trading Monday with London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index falling 0.1 percent. Frankfurt’s DAX 30 slipped 0.4 percent and Paris’s CAC-40 was flat at 4,333.2.