Asian Shares Plummet on Chinese Manufacturing Woes, Fed Rate Risks

By Ambar Warrick

Investing.com– Most Asian stock markets fell sharply on Thursday amid growing signs of weakness in China’s manufacturing sector, while concerns over a hawkish Federal Reserve grew ahead of key nonfarm payrolls data this week.

Bourses in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia tumbled between 1.7% to 2.2%. China’s bluechip index traded flat after showing the country’s manufacturing sector contracted in August.

The reading follows a similar print from on Wednesday, and comes as a brewing power shortage exacerbated by a manufacturing slowdown caused by COVID-19 lockdowns.

A resurgence in COVID-19 cases has spurred new curbs in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, which are expected to keep growth subdued.

Earlier this week, investment bank UBS turned neutral on Chinese equities, citing headwinds from the zero-COVID policy and a debt-ridden property market.

“Until there is a significant easing of the restrictive COVID policies, which seems unlikely in the near term, we expect recovery to be tepid… Until there is a significant easing of the restrictive COVID policies, which seem unlikely in the near term, we expect recovery to be tepid,” UBS analysts wrote in a note.

Broader Asian stocks slumped as investors dumped risk-driven assets ahead of key US nonfarm payrolls data on Friday. Signs of strength in the job market open the door to more hawkish measures from the Fed, which is negative for equity markets.

Japan’s index slumped 1.7%, while the tech-heavy and bourses lost 2% and 1.6%, respectively. Losses in Asia mirrored those on Wall Street, with technology shares dragging US bourses lower for a fourth straight session.

South Korea’s fell 1.9% after data showed the country logged a record trade deficit in August.

Australia’s slipped nearly 2% on a swath of weak data. grew at a slower-than-expected pace in August, while for the month sank much more than expected, pointing to more pressure on the country’s beleaguered property sector.

Australian shares of BHP Group Ltd (ASX:), the world’s largest miner, were the biggest weights on the ASX 200, falling nearly 7% as the stock traded ex-dividend.

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