Sydney: Asian stocks fell on the first trading day of 2019 and U.S. futures and oil pared gains as evidence of slowing Chinese growth weighed on investors already reeling from the worst year for global equities since the financial crisis. The yen touched a six-month high.

The steepest declines were in Hong Kong and China, while shares also fell in Australia and South Korea. S&P 500 Index futures trimmed an advance spurred by signs U.S. President Donald Trump may be more willing to make a deal to end a government shut down. The cash gauge ended the worst year for U.S. stocks since 2008 with a narrow gain in thin pre-holiday trading Monday on optimism about a deal on trade between the U.S. and China. Treasuries won’t trade because of a holiday in Japan for most of this week.

Stocks around the world limped into the end of a dismal year that’s seen bear markets in equities from Japan to Germany. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 16 percent last year, the most since 2011. The S&P 500 had its worst December rout since 1931, ending the month down 9.2 percent. That monthly rout capped a 6.2 percent slide in the year, the biggest of the record bull market. The 10-year Treasury yield slid to 2.68 percent, the lowest since February.

A closely watched gauge of Chinese manufacturing had its lowest reading since May 2017, signaling a contraction as it fell below a reading of 50. The Australian dollar tumbled and oil gave up early gains.

“The trend remains lower for now," Kyle Rodda, an analyst at IG Group Holdings Plc, told Bloomberg Television. “We’ve had rate hikes from the Fed effectively priced out, so we are looking at a situation when markets are thinking that we are entering a period of slower growth."

Elsewhere, crude oil gained after its first annual loss since 2015, completing a reversal that saw it drop from a four-year high set just three months ago. Gold was steady after entering 2019 near a six-month high on haven demand.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 2 percent as of 10:04 a.m. in Hong Kong. The S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.4 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.4 percent. Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1 percent. S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 percent. The S&P 500 Index rose 0.9 percent Monday.

The yen rose 0.1 percent to 109.60 per dollar. The offshore yuan was steady at 6.8758 per dollar. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index added 0.1 percent. The euro traded at $1.1449, down 0.1 percent. The British pound was steady at $1.2743.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell three basis points to 2.68 percent Monday. Australia’s 10-year bond yield fell three basis points to 2.29 percent, the lowest since November 2016.

West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.2 percent to $45.48 a barrel. Gold dipped 0.2 percent to $1,279.61 an ounce.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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