By Saumya Vaishampayan 

A tumble in U.S. stocks spilled into Asia on Wednesday, sending markets down by more than 1% in Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The broad declines came after the Dow Jones Industrial Average notched its worst daily performance in nearly two months, slumping 3.1%.

Elation over the temporary trade standoff between the U.S. and China, which fueled a surge in markets earlier this week, has given way to renewed concerns about global growth if the two countries cannot resolve their differences.

Moves in the U.S. Treasury market also rattled investors. The yield curve has continued to flatten in recent days, with the closely watched gap between yields on two-year and 10-year Treasury notes at its smallest since 2007. Short-term rates rising above their long-term counterparts, known as an inverted yield curve, sends a gloomy signal about growth: an inversion has preceded each U.S. recession since 1975.

In Asia, technology stocks fell more than the broader market. Shares of Tencent Holdings Ltd. lost 1.7% while Samsung Electronics Co. fell 1.8%, outpacing declines of 1.5% and 0.6% in Hong Kong and South Korea, respectively. Sunny Optical Technology Group Co. and AAC Technologies Holdings Inc., which make components for smartphones, were some of the worst performers in Hong Kong's Hang Seng.

Taiwan's index was one of the worst hit, down 1.4%, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.6%. Japan's Nikkei fell 0.4%.

Investors also ran away from risk in currency markets, with the dollar rising against the Indonesian rupiah, Australian dollar and Chinese yuan.

Still, Wednesday's pullback in Asian stocks was smaller than the U.S. swoon. Sean Darby, global equity strategist at Jefferies in Hong Kong, said that was partly because regional stocks had already sold off more sharply this year. "We've already been down and out for quite a while," he said.

This year, the Shanghai Composite has slumped nearly 20%, Korea's Kospi has lost 15% and the Hang Seng has tumbled about 10%. The Dow and S&P 500 are both still up, even after Tuesday's declines.

Weak Chinese data has boosted investor expectations for more policy responses like as tax cuts or higher infrastructure spending--which could lift corporate profits not just in China but around the region.

Such moves to cushion Chinese growth are one reason why Evan Brown, head of macro asset allocation strategy at UBS Asset Management, has become more positive on the prospects for non-U. S. stocks next year. He said he has added to emerging-market investments in recent months because shares in these countries look cheap.

Write to Saumya Vaishampayan at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 04, 2018 22:57 ET (03:57 GMT)

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