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Business Maverick

Stocks slide as recession fears buoy haven assets: markets wrap

Stocks slide as recession fears buoy haven assets: markets wrap
Stock price information displayed in the lobby of the Euronext NV stock exchange in Paris, France, on Wednesday, 14 December 2022. (Photo: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg)

Asian stocks fell with US equity futures and government bonds rallied against the backdrop of weaker-than-expected economic data that supported forecasts for recession.

Benchmarks declined in China, Japan, South Korea and Australia on Thursday. Contracts for US shares fell after the S&P 500 retreated 0.3% on Wednesday as selling pressure clustered in vulnerable corners of the market. The Nasdaq 100 dropped 1%, eroding a stellar first quarter in which the tech-heavy index rose by fifth.

Hong Kong and mainland China stocks were broadly lower following a one-day break in trading as the market was closed on Wednesday for a holiday. The Golden Dragon index of US-listed Chinese shares fell 2.7% in New York.

“It’s going to be a rocky few quarters for global equities,” John Vail, chief global strategist for Nikko Asset Management, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “We don’t see a recession in the States this year and that will surprise some investors on the positive side.”

Haven assets retained their strength, with two-year and 10-year Treasuries little changed and yields near their lows for the year. Government bonds rose in Australia and New Zealand, with moves downward in yields of around seven basis points for Australia’s 10-year maturity. 

An index of the dollar and the yen extended advances from Wednesday. Gold was down slightly but remained near a 13-month high reached in the prior session.

The flight to safety reflected signs of a slowing US economy ahead of crucial data to be released later on Thursday and on Friday. 

The Institute for Supply Management’s index fell to a three-month low of 51.2, below consensus estimates. Private payrolls data from ADP also underwhelmed relative to expectations. The data precede Friday’s US payrolls report, which is forecast to show employers added about a quarter of a million jobs last month and the unemployment rate held at a historically low level.

Elsewhere in markets, India’s central bank is expected to increase interest rates by 25 basis points today, following a surprise 50 basis points hike by New Zealand’s central bank on Wednesday and a decision to pause from the Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday.

“It’s probably time to say goodbye to the phase where we saw central banks moving in lockstep,” Hebe Chen, an analyst with IG Markets Ltd., said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “It will be getting more and more difficult to predict where central banks will move next.” BM/DM

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