Asia stocks skid as global inflation fears, tech woes hit Wall Street

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 2% in early trade, on track for the biggest intraday percentage loss since Jan. 28. Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1.8% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index futures lost 1.69%.

February 26, 2021 / 08:17 AM IST

Asian stocks opened sharply lower on Friday after Wall Street's main indexes tumbled, with technology-related stocks under pressure following a steep rise in benchmark U.S. Treasury yields.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 2% in early trade, on track for the biggest intraday percentage loss since Jan. 28. Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1.8% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index futures lost 1.69%.

U.S. Treasury yields vaulted to their highest since the pandemic began on expectations of a strong economic expansion and related inflation. The bond sell-off accelerated after a disappointing auction of seven-year notes at midday.

"Fed officials aren’t stepping in the way of yield moves and are taking them as a signal of growing optimism in the recovery," said Tapas Strickland in a research note, a director of economics and markets at National Australia Bank.

U.S. stocks tumbled, forcing a decline in European equities that had rallied earlier on a bigger rise than expected in euro zone economic sentiment data for February.

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Apple Inc, Tesla Inc, Amazon.com Inc, NVIDIA Corp and Microsoft Corp were the biggest drags on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

MSCI's all-country world index fell 0.23%, also pulled down by the big U.S. tech names that make up a large component of the global stock benchmark.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.75%, the S&P 500 lost 2.45% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.52%, the biggest single-day decline in almost four months for the tech-heavy index.

Bond trading pushed up a closely watched part of the Treasury yield curve that measures the difference between yields on two- and 10-year notes. The gap, seen as an indicator of economic expectations, widened as much as 141 basis points, the most since 2015.

The 10-year Treasury note was up 14 basis points to yield 1.5286% in late afternoon trade, prompting investors concerned about rich valuations to lock in profits on some high-flying growth stocks.

The dollar index rose 0.173%, lifting off a seven-week low while the safe-haven Japanese yen, which tends to underperform when global growth improves, weakened 0.06% versus the greenback at 106.28 per dollar.

Oil prices held near 13-month highs, with profit-taking limited by assurance that U.S. interest rates will stay low and a sharp drop in U.S. crude output last week due to the winter storm in Texas.

U.S. crude recently fell 0.27% to $63.36 per barrel and Brent was at $67.08, up 0.06% on the day.

Spot gold added 0.1% to $1,771.71 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 0.36% to $1,768.00 an ounce.
Reuters
first published: Feb 26, 2021 08:09 am

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