Asian stocks slip; China leads losses

  • Stocks on Wall Street had a turbulent session overnight following the release of the Federal Reserve's September meeting minutes, which showed a commitment to tighter monetary policy to keep the economy steady.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department refrained from labeling China as a currency manipulator in a report released on Wednesday, but adopted tougher language against the country.
  • The yuan remained weaker in the afternoon of Asian trade.

Stocks in Asia were broadly lower on Thursday, as a Fed report hinted at more rate hikes ahead.

The Greater China markets were largely lower, as Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped by 0.47 percent in the afternoon.

Over on the mainland, the Shanghai composite dropped by 2.94 percent to close at around 2,486.42 while the Shenzhen composite fell by 2.74 percent to end the trading day at about 1,232.01, with shares of Chinese oil giant PetroChina plunged almost 8 percent.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was lower by 0.8 percent to close at 22,658.16, while the Topix index slipped 0.54 percent to end the trading day at 1,704.64. Earlier on Thursday, data showed thatJapan's exports fell in September for the first time since 2016 as shipments to the United States and China declined, adding to concerns about the broadening impact of an escalating Sino-U.S. trade war.

One economist, however, said the decline in exports was probably "temporary."

Speaking with CNBC on Thursday, Kazuo Momma, an executive economist at Mizuho Research Institute, said natural disasters had caused "a huge disruption on supply chain and some industry production and also transport in September."

"I am expecting some fairly reasonable bounce back in October and possibly in November," he added.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi fell by 0.89 percent to close at 2,148.31, with shares of chipmaker SK Hynix dropping by 2.41 percent. The country's central bank had earlier opted to keep monetary policy steady.

The ASX 200 ended the trading day Down Under slightly higher at 5,942.4. The heavily weighted financials subindex was 0.45 percent higher, while the energy sector recovered partially from its earlier losses but still saw a decline of 0.15 percent and materials fell by 0.67 percent.

Jobs data in Australia showed employment numbers for the month of September falling short of expectations from a Reuters poll. The unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percent from the previous month to 5.0 percent.

That employment data "is volatile and can have a short term impact on the currency," said an ANZ Research note in the morning.

"Our bias continues to favour trading AUD with a cautious tone given simmering global risks," it said.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7126, following a slide from above 0.715 in the previous session.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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US doesn't call China a 'currency manipulator'

The U.S. Treasury Department said in a report released on Wednesday that it found no major trading partner met the criteria to be designated as intentionally manipulating its currency. But it kept China on a watch list along with Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Korea and India.

"We will continue to monitor and review China's currency practices, including through discussions with the People's Bank of China," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"The report reinforced our view that the US administration could attempt to focus on currency manipulation as an unfair trade practice, and that for now it will deal with it alongside the negotiations of its trade agreements (in the absence of legislation that allows for trade penalties)," Cesar Rojas, an economist at Citi, said in a note.

The onshore Chinese yuan traded at 6.9361 against the dollar in the afternoon, after earlier weakening to 6.9371 — the weakest level since Jan. 9 2017. Its offshore counterpart also weakened to 6.9370, after the People's Bank of China set the day's midpoint at 6.9275.

Fed meeting minutes suggest more rate hikes ahead

In U.S. market action, the three major stock indices stateside ended the trading day lower.

The moves on Wall Street came after the release of the U.S. Federal Reserve's September meeting minutes, which showed the central bank's commitment to tighter monetary policy to keep the economy steady.

"With regard to the outlook for monetary policy beyond this meeting, participants generally anticipated that further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate would most likely be consistent with a sustained economic expansion, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near 2 percent over the medium term," the minutes read.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.703 in the afternoon, following a rally from levels around the 95.2 mark yesterday.

"The USD has been making up some lost ground in the past 24 hours or so. It seems to have been more market related rather than US data (only housing starts were released overnight and they were likely hurricane affected), while the FOMC Minutes this morning also have not shifted the dial too much," David de Garis, a director and senior economist at National Australia Bank, said in a morning note.

The Japanese yen was at 112.63 against the dollar, after weakening overnight from around the 112 mark.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert and Patti Domm, along with Reuters, contributed to this report.