Wall Street, Bank of Japan, currencies, oil

SINGAPORE — Shares in the Asia-Pacific region mostly traded lower on Wednesday, as economic fears continue to weigh on the market.

Oil futures declined more than 4% in Asia trade. International benchmark Brent crude futures slipped 4.58% to $109.40 per barrel. US crude futures also dropped by 5.01% to $104.03 per barrel.

Reuters reported that US President Joe Biden plans to call for a temporary suspension of the 18.4-cents a gallon federal tax on gasoline in a bid to bring down soaring energy costs.

Chinese markets tumbled. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 2.56% to close at 21,008.34, and the Hang Seng Tech index dropped 4.37%. Alibaba slipped 4.16% and Meituan fell 4.57%.

The Shanghai Composite declined 1.2% to close at 3,267.20, and the Shenzhen Component closed down 1.427% at 12,246.55.

South Korea led losses, with the Kospi falling 2.74% to close at 2,342.81, and the Kosdaq dropping 4.03% to 746.96. SK Hynix was down 3.15% and Naver dropped 4.38%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.37% to 26,149.55 at the close, while the Topix was down 0.19% at 1,852.65.

The rebound in US equities overnight … will be taken with a pinch of salt as elevated inflation and risks to growth persist.

Lavanya Venkateswaran

economist, Mizuho Bank

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia declined 0.23% to 6,508.5. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan declined 2.17%.

Major indexes in the US jumped on Tuesday after weeks of declines. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 641.47 points or 2.15% to 30,530.25, while the S&P 500 rose 2.45% to 3,764.79. The tech-focused Nasdaq advanced 2.51% to 11,069.302.

“The rebound in US equities overnight … will be taken with a pinch of salt as elevated inflation and risks to growth persist,” Lavanya Venkateswaran, an economist at Mizuho Bank, said in a note.

“If you are a global investor and you’re seeking a diversification of risk in your portfolio, what’s very interesting is that the dependency of, let’s say the Chinese equity market, on what’s happening in the US is becoming less and less,” he said. Jim McCafferty, joint-head of APAC equity research at Nomura.

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The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, last traded at 104.709.

The Australian dollar was at $0.6887, after falling from levels above $0.702 late last week.

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