Asia Markets

Asia stocks decline amid renewed slowdown fears

Key Points
  • Stocks in Asia slipped on Wednesday amid renewed fears of a global economic slowdown.
  • The Institute for Supply Management said U.S. manufacturing activity contracted to its worst level since June 2009. That report came on the back of the release of weak manufacturing data from Europe.
  • Markets in China and India were closed on Wednesday for holidays.

Stocks in Asia slipped on Wednesday amid renewed fears of a global economic slowdown.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declined fractionally in afternoon trade, as shares of Chinese tech behemoth Tencent slipped 1.39%.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 0.49% to close at 21,778.61 as shares of index heavyweights Softbank Group and Fanuc dropped 2.67% and 2.22%, respectively. The Topix index also slipped 0.42% to finish its trading day at 1,596.29. Over in South Korea, the Kospi declined 1.95% to close at 2,031.91.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia ended its trading day 1.53% lower at 6,639.90 as most of the sectors declined. Shares of National Australia Bank dropped 2.29% after the lender announced Wednesday that it would incur additional charges of 1.18 billion Australian dollars ($791.96 million), which is expected to slash its cash earnings in the second half of fiscal 2019 by about 1.123 billion Australian dollars ($753.70 million) after tax.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.7% lower.

Meanwhile, manufacturing activity in the U.S. contracted to its worst level since June 2009, according to a Tuesday report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). That came on the back of the release of weak manufacturing data from Europe.

"The very weak ISM, weak levels of (capital expenditure) plans, and inversion of parts of the US yield curve suggests a growing risk the US economy falls into recession," Joseph Capurso, senior currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note.

Markets in China and India were closed on Wednesday for holidays.

The moves across the region came ahead of Hong Kong retail sales data for August, set to be released on Wednesday. The sector has taken a hit amid protracted protests in the city that have lasted for months and periodically degenerated into violence. That comes on top of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, which has lasted more than a year and taken a toll on Hong Kong's economy.

"There is a recession underway in Hong Kong at the moment," Isaac Poole, chief investment officer of Oreana Financial Services, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday.

"If we look back at the data we've now had three quarters of negative growth in the last five ... in Hong Kong," Poole said, adding that the third quarter this year is likely to be negative.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 343.79 points to close at 26,573.04 while the S&P 500 slipped 1.2% to end its trading day at 2,940.25. The Nasdaq Composite declined 1.1% to close at 7,908.68.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 99.247 after touching an earlier low of 99.082.

The Japanese yen, often seen as a safe-haven currency in times of market turmoil, traded at 107.76 against the dollar after strengthening from levels above 108.0 in the previous session. The Australian dollar was at $0.6704 after falling from highs above $0.675 yesterday.

Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures gaining 0.83% to $59.38 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also added 1.29% to $54.31 per barrel.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.