Asian Shares Decline On China Slowdown Worries

Asian stocks drifted lower on Thursday after China reported weak trade figures for August, adding to worries about slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

Chinese exports fell 8.8 percent year on year to $284.9 billion last month, extending declines for the fourth straight month as a result of weak external demand and persistent supply chain issues, according to customs data released earlier today. However, the decline was less than the 14.5 percent plunge in July.

Imports fell 7.3 percent last month to $216.5 billion, showing some improvement after a 12.4 percent decline in July.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 1.1 percent to 3,122.35, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 1.3 percent to close at 18,202.07.

Shares of SMIC, China’s largest contract chipmaker, slumped 7.2 percent in Hong Kong after two U.S. congressmen called for further sanctions against the company.

Japanese shares snapped an eight-day winning streak, with tech stocks suffering heavy losses on lingering worries about inflation and interest rates.

The Nikkei 225 Index dropped 0.8 percent to 32,991.08, while the broader Topix Index closed 0.4 percent lower at 2,383.38. Advantest gave up 6.6 percent and Screen Holdings shed 3.7 percent.

Seoul stocks ended lower for a third day running on U.S. rate hike woes. The Kospi settled 0.6 percent lower at 2,548.26. SK Innovation and LG Energy Solution lost 1-2 percent.

Australian markets tumbled, with losses seen across the board despite Q2 GDP data coming in stronger than expected. The benchmark S&P ASX 100 Index fell 1.2 percent to 7,171.00, while the broader All Ordinaries Index closed down 1.2 percent at 7,374.90.

Austal shares rallied 3.2 percent after the shipbuilder won a $143 million contract with the U.S. Navy.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index finished marginally lower at 11,426.84.

The dollar steadied near six-month highs in Asian trading and gold edged higher, while oil prices fell slightly on concerns about Chinese demand.

U.S. stocks ended lower overnight as rising oil prices revived inflation fears and Boston Fed President Susan Collins warned that more policy tightening could be warranted.

In economic releases, activity in the U.S. services sector rose unexpectedly in August, while the Fed’s Beige Book showed economic growth was modest during July and August.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 1.1 percent, the S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent and the Dow dropped 0.6 percent.

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