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Asia markets mixed after IMF slashes 2019 growth outlook again

Key Points
  • Shares in Asia were mixed.
  • The International Monetary Fund slashed its global economic growth forecast once again on Tuesday.

Stocks in Asia were mixed on Wednesday amid fresh concerns over the outlook for the global economy.

Mainland Chinese stocks were largely unchanged on the day, with the Shanghai composite rising fractionally to 3,241.93 and the Shenzhen component was mostly flat at 10,435.08. The Shenzhen composite declined 0.209 percent to 1,779.28.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong declined 0.15 percent in its final hour of trading, as Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese Construction Bank fell more than 1 percent.

The broad MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 0.13 percent to 544.31, as of 3:33 p.m. HK/SIN.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 declined 0.53 percent to close at 21,687.57 despite shares of index heavyweights Fast Retailing and Softbank Group seeing gains. The Topix index also fell 0.69 percent to finish at 1,607.66.

South Korea's Kospi gained 0.49 percent as chipmaker SK Hynix saw its stock jump 1.03 percent.

Over in Australia, the closed just above the flat line at 6,223.50. The country's central bank deputy governor had said in a speech on Wednesday that it was attempting to ascertain the appropriate policy path amid "conflicting signals" from the labor market, GDP data and business surveys.

"A critical question is which of these is providing the best signal of the global growth impulse? Is it GDP or the labour market? How can we reconcile the difference?" said Reserve Bank of Australia Deputy Governor Guy Debelle, according to a transcript of his speech.

Following that speech, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7146 after touching an earlier low of $0.7107.

Meanwhile, shares of Crown Resorts fell 9.11 percent after Wynn Resorts terminated discussions with the Australian gaming firm after the deal talks were leaked.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

The International Monetary Fund slashed its global economic growth forecast once again on Tuesday, and said it expects the world economy to grow by 3.3 percent this year. That's down from its previous outlook of 3.5 percent, which was also a downgrade. The IMF added that it expects the economy to expand by 3.6 percent in 2020, however.

"Higher trade policy uncertainty and concerns of escalation and retaliation would reduce business investment, disrupt supply chains, and slow productivity growth," said the IMF. "The resulting depressed outlook for corporate profitability could dent financial market sentiment and further dampen growth."

"It's not a debate about whether growth is going to re-accelerate or growth is gonna tank. It's really about how we expect growth to slow and that's really ... the conversation that I think is driving markets now," Daniel Gerard, head of investment and risk advisory at State Street Global Exchange, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and both posted their worst session since March 22, while the Nasdaq Composite notched its largest drop since March 27.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.984 after touching an earlier high of 97.077.

The Japanese yen traded at 111.16 against the dollar after touching an earlier high of 111.05.

Oil prices advanced in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract rising 0.3 percent to $70.82 per barrel and U.S. crude futures adding 0.47 percent to $64.28 per barrel.

— CNBC's Thomas Franck and Fred Imbert contributed to this report.