By Ese Erheriene
Global stock markets continued to pull back on Wednesday as investors continued to assess October’s surge and as commodity prices fell further.
Weakness overnight in Europe and the U.S. “ultimately set Asia up for quite a soggy start,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Group.
The Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -3.34% ended morning trading down 0.9%, and nearly set an intraday low for November. That after October saw a record 16-day winning streak which helped send the Japanese benchmark up 21% in two months. It is now facing a sixth straight decline, something it hasn’t done since May 2016.
Factors behind today’s drop included a stronger yen and fresh weakness in oil prices, with crude declines of at least 1.5% Tuesday being followed by another 1% drop in Asia on a downbeat U.S. inventory reading. Japan Petroleum Exploration /zigman2/quotes/201212147/delayed JP:1662 -5.82% and Inpex /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 -4.63% both slid some 4%.
The WSJ Dollar Index was little changed in Asia, but the morning’s yen strength pushed the greenback /zigman2/quotes/210561418/realtime/sampled JPYUSD +0.0946% down to ¥113.15 from ¥113.62 at Tokyo’s stock market close Tuesday.
The Japanese currency may have been helped by economic-growth figures which, while in line with expectations, allowed the country to notch its longest streak of quarterly gross domestic product gains to 16 years. Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics, though, said, “The economy is running into capacity constraints, which suggests that growth will start to slow next year.”
The weakness in commodity prices continued to weigh on Australian stocks, whose market has a heavy weighting in resources. The S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -1.60% fell 0.3% after logging its biggest decline in nearly two months on Tuesday. The energy subindex slid another 2% after a 4% skid a day earlier, the most in 18 months.
Separately, Australia’s third-quarter wages grew by a lower-than-expected 0.5% despite a big rise in the minimum wage earlier this year. The news highlighted the difficulty the central bank faces in getting inflation to return to its target band over time and likely further wait for the start of interest-rate hikes there.
Near-0.5% index declines were logged in China /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -0.60% , Hong Kong /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.27% and Taiwan — the latter weighed by a 2.4% drop in key Apple supply-chain firm Foxconn /zigman2/quotes/204111604/delayed TW:2354 -0.33% . The company, known formally as Hon Hai, posted a 39% quarterly profit drop amid challenges related to initial production of Apple’s iPhone X.