Asian Shares Fall Amid Global Sell-Off

Asian stocks joined a global sell-off on Friday, with the threat of rising coronavirus cases and jitters over the upcoming U.S. presidential election weighing on the markets.

Chinese shares retreated as the ruling Communist Party concluded its key annual conclave during which it approved the 14th Five-Year Plan and Vision 2035, a long-term development plan that observers say hints at the continuation of President Xi Jinping in power for the next 15 years.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 48.19 points, or 1.5 percent, to 3,224.53, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plummeted 2 percent to 24,107.42.

Japanese stocks ended lower for the fifth straight session on concerns over the global economic recovery. The Nikkei 225 Index gave up 354.81 points, or 1.5 percent, to close at 22,977.13, while the broader Topix ended 2 percent lower at 1,579.33. The Nikkei fell 2.3 percent for the week, marking its biggest weekly loss since July 31.

Kyocera Corp lost nearly 10 percent, Oki Electric Industry fell over 7 percent and Mitsui & Co. declined 6.3 percent after posting disappointing earnings results.

Advantest surged 9.2 percent after raising its full-year outlook. Panasonic added 4.9 percent after announcing it will develop a new battery for electronic car maker Tesla Inc.

On the economic front, industrial output in Japan climbed a seasonally adjusted 4.0 percent sequentially in September, official data showed. That exceeded expectations for a gain of 3.2 percent following the 1.0 percent increase in August.

Overall inflation in the Tokyo region of Japan was down an annual 0.3 percent in October – coming in line with expectations following the 0.2 percent increase in September.

The unemployment rate in Japan stood at a seasonally adjusted 3.0 percent in September – shy of forecasts for 3.1 percent and unchanged from the August reading.

Australian markets ended a choppy session lower and suffered their worst weekly fall since April. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 32.70 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,927.60, marking a weekly loss of about 3.9 percent on concerns over surging coronavirus infections in the U.S. and Europe. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 34.80 points, or 0.6 percent, at 6,133.20.

Banks ended mixed ahead of the RBA’s interest-rate decision next Tuesday. Mining giant BHP shed 0.7 percent, while Rio Tinto advanced 1.6 percent. Smaller Fortescue Metals Group surged 4.5 percent a day after reporting record iron ore shipments in the September quarter.

Western Areas plunged 17.7 percent after the company slashed its nickel production guidance for the 2021 financial year.

Flight Centre Travel Group tumbled 3.5 percent and Qantas lost 3.7 percent after the Queensland premier announced the border would remain closed to Greater Sydney and Victoria.

Financial services giant AMP soared 19.5 percent after it received an indicative takeover offer from U.S. investment group Ares Management Corporation.

Gold miner Sandfire Resources rallied 3.5 percent after it agreed to acquire 85 percent joint venture interest in the Red Bore Copper Project.

Private sector credit in Australia was up 0.1 percent month-on-month in September, the Reserve Bank of Australia said – following the flat reading in August. On a yearly basis, credit rose 2.0 percent.

Seoul stocks fell sharply as both foreign and institutional investors dumped tech stocks amid uncertainties about the U.S. election and surging coronavirus cases globally. The benchmark Kospi tumbled 59.52 points, or 2.6 percent, to 2,267.15.

Market bellwether Samsung Electronics shed 2.6 percent and No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix gave up 2.2 percent. Chemical maker LG Chem plunged 6.1 percent and Hyundai Motor, the country’s largest automaker, declined 3.2 percent.

Industrial output in South Korea climbed a seasonally adjusted 5.4 percent month-on-month in September, Statistics Korea said in a report. That beat expectations for an increase of 3.0 percent following the upwardly revised 0.3 percent contraction in August (originally -0.7 percent).

On a yearly basis, industrial production jumped 8.0 percent – again exceeding expectations for a gain of 1.7 percent following the upwardly revised 2.6 percent decline in the previous month (originally -3.0 percent).

Another report showed that the total value of retail sales in South Korea rose a seasonally adjusted 1.7 percent month-on-month in September. That was higher than forecasts that suggested an increase of 1.5 percent following the 3.0 percent jump in August.

On a yearly basis, retail sales advanced 4.4 percent – again exceeding expectations for a gain of 4.0 percent following the 0.3 percent increase in the previous month.

New Zealand shares fell as investors looked ahead to next week’s U.S. presidential election. The benchmark NZX-50 Index dropped 117.33 points, or 1 percent, to 12,084.47. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare shares slumped 5.4 percent.

New Zealand consumer sentiment improved in October after easing for three straight months, survey data from ANZ showed today. The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index rose to 108.7 in October from 100.0 in September.

U.S. stocks rose overnight as positive jobless claims and GDP data pointed to a stronger-than-expected pace of recovery.

Initial jobless claims fell to a seven-month low for the week ending October 24, while GDP grew at a sizzling 33.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter, marking the fastest quarterly increase on record, separate reports showed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose half a percent, the S&P 500 surged 1.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.6 percent.

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