Asian shares mostly lower as crude slides to $100 per barrel

Full Screen
1 / 4

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index in Hong Kong, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Stocks were mostly lower in Asia and oil prices fell Tuesday after another day of losses on Wall Street as anxiety over the war in Ukraine and an upcoming Federal Reserve meeting on interest rates keep global financial markets on edge. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

BANGKOK – Asian shares were mostly lower and oil prices fell Tuesday after another day of losses on Wall Street as anxiety over the war in Ukraine and an upcoming Federal Reserve meeting on interest rates keep global financial markets on edge.

Markets remain jumbled as investors try to gauge various economic impacts from the war in Ukraine, upcoming rate hikes by central banks and new virus lockdowns in China. Tokyo rose while markets in China, Australia and South Korea fell.

Stocks have fallen sharply in Hong Kong recently, sinking to near six-year lows after the neighboring city of Shenzhen was ordered into a shutdown to combat China’s worst COVID-19 outbreak in two years.

The Hang Seng index lost 2.4% early Tuesday to 19,068.49, while the Shanghai Composite gave up 2.1% to 3,157.14.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.3% to 25,385.11, while the Kospi in Seoul gave up 0.6% to 2,630.34. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slid 0.6% to 7,108.80 and shares also fell in Taiwan and Bangkok.

Oil prices have tumbled, taking some pressure off the inflation sweeping the globe, with a barrel of U.S. crude falling below $100 per barrel after touching $130 last week.

U.S. crude shed $4.14 to $98.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It tumbled $6.32 to $103.01 on Monday.

Brent crude, the standard for pricing international oils, gave up $3.90 to $103.00 per barrel.

Uncertainty about whether the world economy may be heading for a toxic combination of stagnating growth and persistently high inflation has cast recoveries from the pandemic in question as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused prices for oil, wheat and other commodities produced in the region to soar.

That has brought sharp day-to-day and hour-to-hour reversals across markets, as expectations for worsening inflation rise and fall.

“Markets appear to have been trafficking in an odd mix of hope, fear and uncertainty," Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

On Monday, negotiators from Russia and Ukraine met over video conference for a new round of talks, after the two sides expressed some optimism in the past few days. The talks ended without a breakthrough after several hours. The negotiators took “a technical pause,” Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said, and planned to meet again Tuesday.

Investors were already uneasy before the war began because central banks around the world are preparing to shut off the stimulus they pumped into the global economy after the pandemic struck.

The wide expectation is that the Federal Reserve will raise its key short-term interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday. It would be the first increase since 2018, and it would pull the federal funds rate off its record low of nearly zero.

On Monday, the S&P 500 gave up an early gain and closed 0.7% lower, at 4,173.11, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was essentially unchanged at 32,945.24. The Nasdaq fell 2% to 12,581.22.

Small company stocks also fell. The Russell 2000 index slid 1.9% to 1,941.72.

The pullback came as the yield on the 10-year Treasury touched its highest level since the summer of 2019.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 2.16% from 2.00% late Friday after earlier touching its highest level since July 2019. The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations for Fed policy changes, rose to 1.86% from 1.75%.

The Fed faces the challenge of raising rates just quickly and high enough to bat down inflation without overdoing it and causing a recession.

The war in Ukraine makes the balancing act even more difficult. It’s pushing inflation higher by raising prices for everything from nickel to natural gas. And it’s threatening to pull down on economic growth.

In currency dealings, the dollar rose to 118.34 Japanese yen, its highest level in about six years, from 118.18 yen late Monday. The dollar tends to serve as a safe haven in times of crisis, and the prospect of higher interest rates enhances its allure to investors.

The weaker yen is a boon to Japanese export manufacturers as it makes their products relatively cheaper and more competitive in overseas markets. Toyota Motor Corp.'s shares gained 2.5% early Tuesday,

The euro rose to $1.0979 from $1.0941.

____

AP Business Writers Stan Choe, Alex Veiga and Damian J. Troise contributed.