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Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Tokyo — Asian shares sank on Tuesday, as worries about the Chinese property sector weighed on markets from Hong Kong to Australia, while Japanese investors sold chip stocks on their return from a holiday-extended weekend.

Benchmark US Treasury yields hovered near 16-year peaks and the dollar held close to six-month highs as traders braced for a Federal Reserve rate decision on Wednesday, in a week that also sees policy decisions from the Bank of Japan and Bank of England, among others.

Crude oil continued its rally amid tighter supply, stoking worries about stagflation.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares slipped 0.3%.

Japan’s Nikkei tumbled 1.1% under the weight of big losses for chip-related stocks including Tokyo Electron and Advantest.

Japanese markets were closed on Monday, when Asian tech stocks sold off after a Reuters report that TSMC had asked its vendors to delay deliveries.

John Pearce, CIO at Unisuper, called the news “surprising”. “The one thing you were almost certain of was that demand for semiconductors was only one way,” he said. At the same time, “there’s enough lead indicators there to say there’s real softness in the pipeline”, he added.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 0.3%, with a subindex of tech stocks sliding 0.7%.

Chinese property stocks were volatile, with a subindex of Hang Seng developers dropping as much as 1.2% at one point, though it was last off 0.2%.

In one positive development, Country Garden won approval from creditors to extend repayment on another onshore bond, the last in the batch of eight bonds it has been seeking extensions for, sources said. The stock climbed about 1%.

Property services provider Country Garden Services, though, was among the worst performers on the Hang Seng, dropping about 2%.

An index of mainland blue chips fell 0.4%, while a subindex of property stocks was flat.

Australia’s stock benchmark dropped 0.4%, sagging under the weight of mining stocks amid pessimism over Chinese demand.

Weakness in Asia came despite small gains for Wall Street overnight, with US stock futures flat.

Currency markets were also subdued, with the US dollar index — which measures the currency against six peers — rising 0.06% to 105.14, edging back towards last week's six-month peak of 105.43. The dollar added 0.1% to 147.73 yen, bringing it closer to last week’s 10-month top of 147.95. The euro eased 0.07% to $1.06825.

Ten-year yields were little changed at just above 4.3%, holding close to the 4.366% level reached on August 22, which was the highest since 2007.

Traders are all but certain the Fed will leave rates steady again at the conclusion of a two-day meeting that begins later on Tuesday, but are split on the chances on another quarter-point increase by year-end. Fed officials will release their latest predictions on the economy and where rates are likely to be over the coming quarters.

Meanwhile, oil prices rose in early trade on Tuesday for the fourth consecutive session, as weak shale output in the US spurred further concerns about a supply deficit stemming from extended production cuts by Saudi Arabia and Russia.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 90c, or 1%, to $92.38, just under a 10-month high reached on Monday. Brent crude futures rose 27c, or 0.3%, to $94.70 a barrel.


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