Asian markets declined on Wednesday as a sell-off in U.S. and European markets weighed on sentiment during the Asian trading session. The political crisis in Italy took center stage, with investors concerned over its implications for the rest of the euro zone.
The Nikkei 225 fell 1.5 percent in Tokyo, with the banking and non-ferrous metals sectors among the worst-performing sectors. The broader Topix was down 1.7 percent as 32 of its 33 subindexes traded lower.
The Kospi slid 1.66 percent, as heavyweights like Samsung Electronics and Posco sank 1.56 percent and 2.29 percent, respectively.
Greater China markets were also spooked. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 1.41 percent, with the property sector falling 1.81 percent fall. Heavily weighted financials also came under pressure during the day. On the mainland, the Shanghai composite lost 1.77 percent.
Over in Sydney, however, stocks registered more measured declines. The S&P/ASX 200 edged down by 0.55 percent. The financials subindex led the move lower, but gains were seen in gold producers and utilities names.
MSCI’s broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan pulled back, dropping 1.29 percent in Asia afternoon trade.
Losses in Asia came on the back of political turmoil in Italy, which is expected to lead to a fresh vote in the months ahead. The country has been without a government since early March, with anti-establishment political groups abandoning efforts to form a coalition over the weekend amid a dispute with the country’s head of state.
U.S. stocks sold off, with the Dow Jones industrial average sliding 1.58 percent, or 391.64 points. The losses seen on Tuesday marked the worst daily performance for both the Dow and S&P 500 since April 24. Both stock indexes were also down for the third consecutive session.
European markets were also weakerin the last session, with Italy’s FTSE MIB tumbling 2.65 percent.
“The League/Five Star is already turning the election into an anti-establishment/anti euro one and that’s what the market has in its sights,” David de Garis, director of economics at National Australia Bank, said in a morning note.
For Asia, however, jitters as a result of political concerns could prove to fade in the medium term. “We are living right now a very complicated situation in Italy. For those who are living in Asia, all they need to do is simply close their eyes, move forward six months and this whole storm will disappear,” Marco Elser, head portfolio manager at Lonsin Capital, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday.
The euro traded at $1.1532 at 12:14 p.m. HK/SIN, which was below the $1.16 level seen in the previous session. The dollar index, which tracks the dollar against several major currencies, was little changed at 94.887.
Italian bond yields rose, with the two-year yield advancing more than 180 basis points, in the last session as investors sold Italian bonds. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield came in at 2.82 percent after slipping below 2.8 percent overnight as investors turned to safe-haven assets. Bond prices move inversely to yields.
Other safe-haven plays also firmed overnight, with the Japanese yen on Wednesday holding onto overnight gains to trade at 108.67 to the dollar.
After what seemed like a cooling in tensions between the U.S. and China over bilateral trade issues, the White House on Tuesday said it was moving ahead with plans to subject around $50 billion in Chinese imports to tariffs.
On the commodities front, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures slipped 0.42 percent to trade at $66.45 per barrel after settling 1.7 percent lower on Tuesday. Brent crude futures were down 0.69 percent at $74.87. Oil prices have come under pressure following news last week that Saudi Arabia and Russia had discussed raising output.
Also of note, Indonesia’s central bank will meet on Wednesday after seeing little success with recent attempts to prop up the Indonesian rupiah. Most analysts polled by Reuters expect Bank Indonesia to raise its main rate by 25 basis points.
Among individual movers, shares of Nintendo rose 3.75 percent after the consumer electronics company announced three new Pokemon titles for its Switch console.