Asian shares hit 17-month lows as investors fretted about everything from the Chinese economy, to trade wars, higher U.S. bond yields and political dysfunction in Europe.
“Risk sentiment is in a foul mood and stocks are sinking everywhere,” said analysts at JPMorgan in a note. “The reasons are myriad and many are a continuation of recent overhangs.”
MSCI`s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased another 0.15 percent after ending Monday at its lowest point since May last year.
Japan`s Nikkei fell 1.1 percent as it resumed from a one-day holiday, hurt in part by a rise in the safe-harbour yen.
Eyes were again on China, where blue chips shed 4.3 percent on Monday in the largest daily drop since early 2016. While the stock market in China is far from a reliable gauge of economic activity, sharp falls do spill over into sentiment across the region.
“The latest round of selling in China can`t be dismissed and has resulted in Chinese stocks suffering their worst start to October in a decade,” said Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy & market research at broker FXTM.
“We have seen a trend in the past where weakness in China has resonated on other global markets,” he added. “If the yuan continues to ease, it does paint a picture of more possible pain for emerging markets.”
The yuan had slid to its lowest official close against the dollar in seven weeks on expectations Beijing would follow Sunday`s policy easing with more stimulus.
On Monday, a senior U.S. Treasury official expressed concern at the fall in the yuan, adding that it was unclear whether Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would meet with any Chinese officials this week.
On Wall Street, the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell for the third straight day and growth stocks were pressured by worries rising bond yields might ultimately hobble the economy.
The S&P 500 lost 0.04 percent and the Nasdaq Composite 0.67 percent, while the Dow rose 0.15 percent as defensive stocks found buyers.NO SAFETY NET
Yields on 10-year Treasury paper held at 3.23 percent on Tuesday, just off a seven-year top.
Treasuries have had a sort of safety net up to now as rising yields tend to dampen stocks and threaten the economic outlook, thus putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to go slow on policy tightening.
Yet recently the Fed has sounded so bullish on the economy and so hawkish on rates that the net has become frayed.
“The size and speed of the bearish bond impulse would suggest a collective shift in market thinking about the US growth prospects and policy projections,” said Damien McColough, Westpac`s head of rates strategy.
“The Fed`s expected 2019 profile has moved from just below 2 hikes to 2.5 hikes being factored-in.”