Asia-Pacific stocks pulled back on Tuesday following on from a slide on Wall Street amid global growth concerns and as a speech from Chinese President Xi Jinping offered no new initiatives to boost the country’s slowing economy.
The region’s biggest loser was Japan, where the Topix index was down 1.9 per cent at an 18-month low weighed by a 3 per cent fall for the healthcare sector and as industrials fell 1.9 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 1.4 per cent in afternoon trading as heavily weighted technology stocks fell 2.1 per cent and the energy segment shed 2.4 per cent.
Chinese stocks were also in retreat, with the CSI 300 index of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed companies down 1.2 per cent. The index extended losses after a speech from Mr Xi marking 40 years of the country’s “reform and opening” failed to give hint of major new initiatives or structural reform.
“His speech may have been slightly disappointing for those waiting on new reforms and policy signals; instead they got a whole lot of Communist preaching,” said Sue Trinh, head of Asia FX for RBC, noting that Mr Xi “did not reference the trade war directly”.
China is holding its key economic conference, the Central Economic Work Conference, in Beijing starting on Tuesday, against a background of lacklustre growth data and expectations of further stimulus measures to shore up the economy. The meeting will set the growth target and fiscal and monetary policy stances for 2019.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 1.2 per cent lower thanks to a 2.9 per cent fall for energy stocks weighed down by lower oil prices, and as financials lost 1.5 per cent.
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