By ELAINE KURTENBACH – Japan Today
Shares were mostly lower in Asia on Tuesday after a broad slide on Wall Street led by technology companies.
Tokyo’s Nikkei fell 2.2% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng recovered from early losses.
China-U.S. tensions regained the spotlight after U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said she plans frank conversations with officials in Beijing about an interim trade deal aimed at resolving a tariff war.
Tai said she did not want to “inflame trade tensions with China.” But her comments suggested continuity of U.S. policy toward Beijing under President Joe Biden from the strategy adopted by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., she also said that the U.S. “must defend to the hilt our economic interests” and take “all steps necessary to protect ourselves against the waves of damage inflicted over the years through unfair competition.”
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 2.2% to 27,822.12 and the Kospi in Seoul dropped 1.9% to 2,962.17. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia declined 0.4% to 7,248.40.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.5% to 24,166.74. Shanghai is closed until Friday for a national holiday.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.49%.
Aside from regional geopolitical tensions, rising bond yields and energy prices are stoking investor concern about inflation.
The price of U.S. oil has risen to nearly $78 per barrel, its highest level since 2014, as OPEC and allied oil producers stuck to a plan for cautious production increases even as global demand for crude surges.
Natural gas prices have also surged.
Rising energy costs and supply chain problems are adding to worries over inflation and in turn to concern over the Federal Reserve’s plans to trim bond purchases and eventually raise its benchmark interest rate.
“Assuming the energy squeeze is the new normal, it is hard to see transient inflation being as transient as the world’s central bankers are forecasting/hoping it will be,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.
“The effect will be felt throughout the world’s supply chains,” he said, adding that monetary policy cannot entirely resolve the problem.
On Monday, the S&P 500 fell 1.3% to 4,300.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.9% to 34,002.92, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 2.1% to 14,255.48.
Small company stocks also fell. The Russell 2000 index gave up 1.1% to 2,217.47.
Facebook slid 4.9% a day after a former employee told “60 Minutes” that the company has consistently chosen its own interests over the public good. The social network and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms also suffered a worldwide outage that began around midmorning U.S. time on Monday but ended early in Asia’s day Tuesday.
In Tuesday trading in Asia, benchmark U.S. crude was up 10 cents to $77.72 per barrel. Brent crude, the standard for international pricing, gained 21 cents to $81.47 per barrel.
Wall Street will get more information on the economy’s health this week. On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management will release its service sector index for September. The services sector is the largest part of the economy and its health is a key factor for growth.
On Friday, the Labor Department will release its employment report for September. The employment market has been struggling to fully recover from the damage done by COVID-19 more than a year ago.
The U.S. dollar rose to 111.19 Japanese yen from 110.93 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1602 from $1.1618.