Asia shares skid to three-week lows on China concerns, Wall Street drop

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By Lisa Twaronite

Asian shares skidded to three-week lows and the dollar sagged on Tuesday, after weak Chinese data rekindled worries about its fragile economy and led to sharp losses on Wall Street.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.7 percent in early trading, touching its lowest levels since Sept. 8.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index .N225 tumbled 2.4 percent.

Chinese industrial companies’ profits fell at their fastest rate in four years, official data showed on Monday, sparking fresh fears about the strength of that country’s economy ahead the final reading of China’s Caixin Purchasing Managers’ Index on Thursday.

On Wall Street on Monday, major indexes all closed sharply down. The S&P 500 index .SPX hit a one-month low on bullish U.S. consumer spending data in August as it raised concerns the Federal Reserve could hike rates at a time of slackening global growth.

The Fed held off from raising interest rates at its meeting earlier this month, citing worries about the global economy, particularly China.

But New York Fed President William Dudley said the central bank remains on track for a likely rate hike this year and could move as soon as next month.

John Williams, head of the San Francisco Fed, also signaled support for an interest rate hike this year, though Chicago Fed chief Charles Evans sounded a far more dovish tone.

“Markets have heard such talk before and with equities under pressure, it was hard to take rate hike talk seriously,” Sean Callow, senior currency strategist at Westpac in Sydney, said in a note to clients on Tuesday.

U.S. non-farm payrolls on Friday could add more clarity to the timing of a U.S. policy move, and prop up the sagging greenback.

For now, lower U.S. Treasury yields continued to pressure the dollar, as investors sought the safety of fixed-income assets.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year note < US10YT=RR> stood at 2.098 percent, not far from its U.S. close of 2.095 percent on Monday.

The dollar was down about 0.2 percent against its Japanese counterpart at 119.73 yen JPY=, well below Friday’s high of 121.24. The euro slipped about 0.2 percent to 134.55 yen EURJPY=R.

The euro edged down about 0.1 percent to $1.1232 EUR=, but remained well above a low of $1.1116 touched on Friday. On Wednesday, a flash estimate of annual euro zone inflation is expected to show a zero reading in September, according to a Reuters poll.

The dollar index .DXY slipped about 0.1 percent to 95.984, extending the previous session’s 0.4 percent drop.

Crude oil futures steadied after plunging nearly 3 percent overnight as the downbeat Chinese data fueled fears about global demand.

U.S. crude CLc1 edged up about 0.2 percent to $44.51 a barrel, while Brent LCOc1 added about 0.1 percent to $47.38.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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