Sydney: A sell-off in US stocks that sent the S&P 500 Index to its lowest close in 14 months spread to Asia, suggesting investor worries about the outlook for growth that are at odds with the projected Federal Reserve interest-rate hike on Wednesday. Equities declined in Japan, Australia and South Korea. U.S. futures were little changed after the S&P 500 finished Monday at the lowest since October 2017 and the Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies entered a bear market. The dollar held a decline as 10-year Treasury yields hovered around 2.86 percent. West Texas Intermediate crude fell further below $50 as fears of a supply glut grew. Chinese assets will be closely watched as President Xi Jinping gives a speech on the nation’s reform path.
“There is panic in markets that the global economy is falling down a cliff and all growth-sensitive assets are in free-fall with US equities, oil and copper tumbling to yearly lows," Bernd Berg, global macro and FX strategist at Woodman Asset Management, said in an email Tuesday. “All eyes are now on Fed Chair Jerome Powell with pressure on the Fed mounting to provide a lifeline to stem the global market rout."
Investors will be scrutinizing the Fed’s statement Wednesday, as well as Chairman Jerome Powell’s news conference, for clues as to its intentions for 2019. President Donald Trump again weighed in, tweeting Monday that it was “incredible" the central bank was considering a rate hike, given low inflation and a strong dollar.
Global growth forecasts for next year are being trimmed as a trade war between the biggest economies bites and markets reel from a volatile 2018. Meanwhile, political uncertainty still grips investors. There has been another round of personnel changes within the Trump administration, threats of a government shutdown and confusion remains over Britain’s future relationship with the European Union.
Japan’s Topix index fell 1.6 percent as of 9:13 a.m. in Tokyo. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 1.2 percent. FTSE China A50 futures dropped 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index futures were little changed overnight. S&P 500 futures rose 0.2 percent. The S&P 500 Index fell 2.1 percent as of 4 p.m. New York time.
The yen ticked 0.1 percent higher to 112.78 per dollar. The offshore yuan was steady at 6.8975 per dollar. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was stable after falling 0.3 percent. The euro traded at $1.1352. The British pound was at $1.2616, down 0.1 percent.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries was 2.86 percent. Australia’s 10-year bond yield fell about two basis points to 2.42 percent.
West Texas Intermediate crude declined 1.1 percent to $49.32 a barrel, on track for a third day of declines. Gold was steady at $1,246.10 an ounce. The Bloomberg Commodity Index dipped 1.2 percent to the lowest in almost 18 months Monday.