Markets in Asia slipped on Monday afternoon as investors remained cautious, following global losses in the previous week.
In the Greater China region, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong fell by around 1.01 percent in the afternoon. The Shanghai composite also slipped by 0.79 percent while the Shenzhen composite lost its earlier gains to decline by 0.295 percent.
The moves in China came as new reserve requirements for lenders went into effect, in a move by the People’s Bank of China which is expected to inject 750 billion yuan (around $108.4 billion) into the banking system.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell by 1.43 percent in afternoon trade, while the Topix index slipped by 1.14 percent, with most sectors trending lower.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi also saw losses of 0.52 percent, with industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics sliding 0.8 percent.
In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 fell 1.12 percent in afternoon trade as most sectors continued to trade down. The heavily weighted financial subindex fell 1.74 percent as major banking shares saw losses — Commonwealth Bank was down 2.16 percent, ANZ fell 1.93 percent, Westpac was lower by 1.78 percent and the National Australia Bank declined by 1.7 percent.
Softbank stock under pressure from Saudi ties
Softbank saw its stock plunging by more than 6.6 percent in the afternoon over concerns of the company’s ties to Saudi Arabia, which is under mounting pressure internationally following the disappearance of a prominent journalist who was a critic of the administration.
The Saudi journalist and U.S. resident, Jamal Khashoggi, has been missing since he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia has denied it was involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Oil prices increase amid missing Saudi journalist case
In oil markets, prices jumped during Asian trade on Monday morning. The global benchmark Brent crude futures contract advanced by 1.26 percent to $81.44 per barrel, while the U.S. crude futures contract rose 1.09 percent to $72.12 per barrel.
“The alleged murder of the Saudi journalist in their embassy in Turkey opens a new source of risk, as President Trump threatens “punishment”. Any Saudi retaliation will presumably mainly come through reduced oil supply and higher prices. That won’t help market sentiment,” Robert Carnell, chief economist and head of research Asia-Pacific at ING, said in a morning note.
In the previous week, stocks sold off globally as investors fretted over rising interest rates, valuations and worries about a possible economic slowdown. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 finished the week down by more than 4 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite posted a 3.7 percent weekly loss.
US-China trade war in focus
Trade tensions between the U.S. and China remain a focus for investors. On Sunday, China’s central bank governor Yi Gang said the People’s Bank of China still has “plenty of monetary instruments” and “room for adjustment” with respect to countering the impact of a trade war.
On the same day, Chinese ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai told “Fox News Sunday” in an interview that diplomats “don’t know who is the final decision-maker” within President Donald Trump’s White House.
Elsewhere, the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, traded at 95.350 as of 12:15 p.m. HK/SIN, following a slide from highs above 96.0 last week.
The Japanese yen was at 112.06 against the dollar after strengthening from levels above 113.8 last week, while the Australian dollar traded at $0.7104 after seeing gains from around 0.705 in the previous week.