TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks fell Monday after selling off last week on Wall Street as investors worried about the impact on regional economies of inflation, the war in Ukraine and COVID lockdowns. -19 in China.
Benchmarks fell in Japan, South Korea and Australia. Trade was closed for the holidays in China and other regional markets.
A new cause for concern was a report showing that pandemic shutdowns have hurt factory activity in China, the region’s main driver of growth.
The monthly Purchasing Managers’ Index, released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, fell to 47.4 in April from 49.5 in March on a 100-point scale. Numbers less than 50 indicate outsourcing of activities.
COVID-19 outbreaks have impacted Chinese factory operations and market demand, said bureau statistician Zhao Qinghe.
Some companies have reduced or stopped production, with disruptions both in logistics and in the supply of raw materials and components.
Residents of Shanghai, China’s most populous city, spent most of April in lockdown. The capital, Beijing, is mass testing millions.
In Japan, the Golden Week holiday allows people to take a vacation, even in the “workaholic” corporate culture. But crowds gathering at resorts are adding to concerns that coronavirus cases could pick up again, prompting a resumption of restrictions on restaurant opening hours and other business activities.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was down 0.1% in afternoon trade at 26,814.78. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.2% to 7,347.00. The South Korean Kospi fell 0.4% to 2,685.28. Trade was closed in China for Labor Day, a national holiday.
In Ukraine, an evacuation has begun of civilians from a steel plant in Mariupol under frequent shelling by Russian forces. Many past evacuation attempts have failed.
On Friday on Wall Street, steep losses in tech stocks sent the S&P 500 tumbling 3.6% to 4,131.93, while the Nasdaq fell 4% to 12,334.64, ending April 13 down, 3% in its biggest monthly loss since 2008.
The Dow fell 2.8% to 32,977.21 and small company stocks also had a tough day. The Russell 2000 slipped 2.8% to 1,864.10.
Investors scrutinized the financial results of big tech companies, industrial firms and retailers and some disappointing results or outlook from Apple, Google’s parent company and Amazon helped fuel sales last week.
Retail giant Amazon posted its first loss since 2015, with the drop knocking more than $200 billion off its market value.
The Nasdaq composite, heavily weighted in technology stocks, has lost 21.2% this year.
Traders are watching the US Federal Reserve’s next steps to fight inflation. The Fed is expected to announce another round of rate hikes this week. That means higher borrowing costs at a time when inflation concerns are on the minds of investors and consumers alike.
Prices for everything from food to gasoline have risen as the economy recovers from the pandemic and there has been a big disconnect between higher demand and lagging supply. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine only heightened inflation concerns.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude fell 99 cents to $103.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 67 cents to $104.69 a barrel on Friday.
Brent crude, the international standard, fell 97 cents to $106.17 a barrel.
In currency trading, the US dollar rose slightly to 130.36 Japanese yen from 129.83 yen. The euro traded at $1.0522, down from $1.0546.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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