By Ese Erheriene
Stocks started the week modestly lower in Asia, following some sizable declines worldwide at the end of last week.
Friday’s removal of chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, while not a surprise to markets, turned the spotlight back on concerns about the Trump administration’s ability to advance its agenda.
“It does highlight the political turmoil that President Donald Trump is facing,” said Jingyi Pan, a market analyst at IG Group. “For the markets…it leaves a lingering concern about U.S. policy.”
Still, some say the three-day Jackson Hole gathering hosted by the Federal Reserve, starting Thursday, bring investor focus back to fundamentals.
Australia stocks fell, with the S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -3.25% ending down 0.4% amid drops for the country’s big four banks, which make up more than a quarter of the index’s weighting. Commonwealth Bank of Australia /zigman2/quotes/200638713/delayed AU:CBA -3.14% declined 0.9%.
The Nikkei /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -3.67% in Japan fell 0.4%, with financial and export-dependant stocks like Nomura Holdings /zigman2/quotes/206251373/delayed JP:8604 -5.09% and Sony /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 -3.87% each losing more than 1%.
Weakness in both markets came despite strength in energy stocks after oil prices rebounded 3% Friday. Australia’s Santos /zigman2/quotes/207349564/delayed AU:STO -2.57% rose 1.2% and Japan’s Inpex /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 -2.67% added 1.5%. Crude futures were flat early Monday in Asia.
Chinese stocks, which outperformed Friday as the Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -3.71% bucked regional declines, rose by 0.6% Monday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -2.42% closed up 0.4%.