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Asian stocks hit 2021 lows on China tech selling, real yields drop before Fed

Asia's stock markets fell to fresh troughs on Tuesday led by a third straight session of heavy selling in Chinese internet giants, while bond and currency markets traded on edge ahead of the Federal Reserve policy meeting.

Asian stocks hit 2021 lows on China tech selling, real yields drop before Fed

FILE PHOTO: An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Beijing, August 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee

LONDON/HONG KONG: Asian stocks hit their lowest this year on Tuesday on a third straight session of selling in Chinese internet giants, and real bond yields hit record lows ahead of a Federal Reserve policy meeting.

The Hong Kong benchmark fell 4.57per cent, its third day of declines, with the Hang Seng Tech index down 8.69per cent to its lowest since its inception in July 2020. It has fallen around 17per cent in three days and has lost 44per cent from a February peak.

Big decliners included Meituan and Alibaba, whose shares fell 16.1per cent and 5.5per cent respectively. Both were down for the third successive day with investors expecting the companies' food delivery arms to be affected by new regulations guaranteeing workers above minimum pay.

Chinese bluechips dropped 3.53per cent, also hitting 2021 lows, thanks to regulatory crackdowns in the education and property sectors.

"The market seems to be uncertain whether there will be more policy changes for fintech, social media platforms, delivery platforms and ride hailing platforms," said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING.

"Each has their own issue and faces different regulatory actions, so the market is looking for 'which technology subsector will be next?'"

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 2.2per cent to its lowest level since end-December, having slid 2.45per cent the previous day.

Japan's Nikkei rose 0.49per cent, however, and Australian shares were up 0.5per cent.

Asian weakness weighed on European stocks, which fell 0.92per cent, moving further away from recent record highs. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 1.23per cent. Global stocks fell 0.35per cent.

S&P 500 futures dipped 0.24per cent after all three major U.S. stock indexes closed at record highs for a second straight session on Monday, on optimism ahead of a slew of tech earnings this week.

Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are set to publish quarterly results late on Tuesday, with Amazon.com Inc's due later in the week.

In addition, the Fed will begins its two-day meeting on Tuesday, with investors set to scrutinise a statement and press conference from Chair Jerome Powell due late Wednesday.

They will be looking to see how the central bank will balance fast-rising prices with the complication of increased coronavirus infections.

"While we expect the Federal Reserve to prove more hawkish than expected...the negative impact on the equity market should be quite subdued as easy monetary policy is still there for quite a while," said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management.

Real, or inflation-adjusted, bond yields in the United States and Europe have fallen to record lows and on Tuesday, the yield on 10-year Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS) hit -1.147per cent, down 4 basis points on the day. German inflation-linked bond yields also extended their recent falls, hitting a new low at around -1.747per cent.

ING Bank strategist Antoine Bouvet said the fall in real yields could be explained by thin market liquidity and hefty central bank bond buying.

"Of course there are macro worries, and the phase of growth acceleration of this cycle looks to be over, but this does not justify rates where they are," he said.

The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes slipped one basis point and 10-year German Bund yields dropped 2.6 basis points, close to a 5-1/2 month low set on Monday.

The dollar rose 0.18per cent against a basket of currencies and the euro slipped 0.2per cent versus the dollar. The dollar also fell 0.2per cent against the yen.

U.S. crude dropped 0.45per cent to US$71.60 a barrel amid concern surging COVID-19 cases worldwide could impact demand.

Gold was steady at US$1,798.86 per ounce.

Bitcoin was trading around US$37,100 from a Monday peak of US$40,581 after Amazon.com offered a qualified denial of a weekend news report that said it was preparing to accept cryptocurrencies.

(Additional reporting by Sujata Rao and Dhara Ranasinghe in London; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Sam Holmes)

Source: Reuters

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