Asian Shares Slide On U.S. Stimulus Concerns

Asian stocks fell on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump accused congressional Democratic leaders of blocking a new economic relief deal, casting doubt on the prospects of a bipartisan, multi-trillion dollar stimulus deal before Election Day. The death of a volunteer participating in Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials also dented risk sentiment.

Chinese shares retreated as U.S. stimulus talks dragged on and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said that his government will not buy China’s Sinovac vaccine against Covid-19.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slipped 12.52 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,312.50 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 31.71 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,786.13.

Japanese shares ended lower as the yen firmed up after reports that Russia and Iran have both obtained U.S. voter information and taken actions to influence public opinion ahead of the November 3 election.

The Nikkei 225 Index gave up 165.19 points, or 0.7 percent, to finish at 23,474.27, while the broader Topix index closed 1.1 percent lower at 1,619.79.

ANA Holdings plummeted 4.1 percent on reports the airline is expecting to book a record annual net loss of around 530 billion yen ($5 billion) and decided to retire half of its wide-body fleet, losing around 25 to 30 planes. Rival Japan Airlines gave up 2.2 percent.

Australian markets hit nearly two-week lows before ending off their worst levels. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended down 18.00 points, or 0.3 percent, at 6,173.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index slid 19.40 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,383.70.

Woodside Petroleum declined 1.6 percent and Santos lost 1.9 percent after reporting lower quarterly sales. Medical centre operator Healius surged 9.3 percent after a positive first-quarter update.

The big four banks fell around half a percent. AMP slumped 5.6 percent after the troubled wealth giant revealed net outflows of $2.4 billion from its once-flagship funds management division.

Seoul stocks fell notably to snap a three-day winning streak amid concerns about stalled negotiations over a new round of fiscal stimulus in the world’s largest economy.

Concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic also dented sentiment as the number of daily local coronavirus cases in the country hit a monthly high. The benchmark Kospi dropped 15.81 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,355.05.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics declined 1.3 percent and top pharmaceutical firm Samsung Biologics tumbled 4.4 percent, while chemical maker LG Chem advanced 3.6 percent.

New Zealand shares fell slightly, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index ending down 25.32 points, or 0.2 percent, at 12,407.29. Telecom infrastructure firm Chorus lost 2.1 percent to pace the decliners.

U.S. stocks edged lower overnight as Senate Democrats blocked Republicans’ $500 billion so-called “skinny bill” and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “still have a ways to go” before finalizing a deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.4 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eased 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 slid 0.2 percent.

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