Asian stocks Update : Asian stocks fall as Taiwan earthquake rattles sentiment, rate fears persist

Asian stocks Update

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Asian stocks Update : Most Asian stocks sank on Wednesday as a devastating earthquake in Taiwan dented risk appetite, while uncertainty over the path of U.S. interest rates also spurred extended profit-taking in the region.

Regional stocks took a weak lead-in from Wall Street, as U.S. stock indexes tumbled from near record highs in the first two trading days of the second quarter. U.S. stock futures steadied in Asian trade. Asian stocks Update

But concerns over the full impact of the Taiwan earthquake, which rocked the island state on Wednesday morning, were a key point of contention for Asian markets.

Asian stocks Update : The headline tells us that Asian stock markets experienced a decline. Let’s break down the reasons behind this:

  • Taiwan earthquake rattles sentiment: A recent earthquake in Taiwan likely caused some uncertainty and nervousness among investors. This could lead them to sell their holdings, driving stock prices down.
  • Rate fears persist: Concerns about rising interest rates continue to weigh on investor sentiment. When interest rates go up, borrowing money becomes more expensive, which can slow down economic growth and potentially hurt corporate profits. This fear can lead investors to be more cautious and pull their money out of stocks.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the effects:

  • Taiwan earthquake: While the direct impact of the earthquake on companies might be limited, the event itself can create a sense of instability and risk aversion. This can lead investors to sell stocks across Asia, not just in Taiwan.
  • Rate fears: Central banks around the world are considering raising interest rates to combat inflation. This anticipation can cause investors to be hesitant to invest in stocks, leading to a decline in overall market confidence.

Overall, the Asian stock market decline is likely a result of a combination of these factors. The earthquake added to existing concerns about rising interest rates, leading investors to be more cautious and sell their holdings.

Taiwan earthquake dents local stocks

Taiwan’s benchmark Taiwan Weighted index fell 0.8% on Wednesday, amid broad-based losses as sentiment was battered by a 7.5 magnitude quake in the country.

The earthquake was the strongest to hit the island since 1999, and was seen wiping out power to several homes, destroying public infrastructure and also disrupting public transport across the island.

Major chipmaker and index heavyweight TSMC (TW:2330) reportedly suspended production at its local factories and also evacuated staff in some areas. Shares of the firm, which is by far Taiwan’s most valuable company, fell more than 1% on Wednesday. Asian stocks Update

Broader Asian markets fall amid rate uncertainty

In addition to concerns over Taiwan, sentiment towards broader Asian markets was also hit by growing uncertainty over just when the Federal Reserve will begin cutting interest rates, especially ahead of key nonfarm payrolls data due this Friday. 

This uncertainty spurred a measure of profit-taking in markets that had a strong run-up in the first quarter of 2024. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5%, retreating further from record highs hit in March. Tsunami warnings were also issued in parts of Japan following the Taiwan earthquake, particularly in Okinawa. 

Australia’s ASX 200 slid 1.3%, also falling sharply from recent record highs, while steep losses in technology stocks dragged South Korea’s KOSPI down 1.4%.

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes fell 0.5% each, shrugging off the results of a private survey showing that the country’s services sector grew as expected in March.

Official data released last week also showed China’s manufacturing sector returned to expansion in March, potentially heralding some recovery in the country’s economy after a year of laggard growth. 

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slid 1.2%, weighed by losses in major new energy vehicle stocks, which followed a steep fall in EV giant Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), after the firm clocked disappointing deliveries for the first quarter. 

Elsewhere, futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a weak open, with the index likely to track weakness in its broader Asian peers. A Reserve Bank Of India meeting this Friday was also in focus.

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