Asian Shares Retreat As Investors Await Fed Minutes

Asian stocks fell broadly on Wednesday as inflation worries persisted and investors awaited the Fed meeting minutes to figure out officials’ view on the economic recovery and inflation.

Chinese shares closed lower amid increased tensions between Beijing and Washington. China has accused the United States of threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait after a U.S. warship sailed through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from China.

In another development, the U.S. Treasury said it was postponing a ban on trading shares of companies with alleged links to the Chinese military.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended down 18.05 points, or 0.51 percent, at 3,510.96. Markets in South Korea and Hong Kong were closed for Buddha’s birthday and National Day, respectively.

Japanese shares ended lower as the country struggled with a renewed outbreak of coronavirus amid a shortage of medical staff hospital beds in some areas. The Nikkei average fell 362.39 points, or 1.28 percent, to 28,044.45 as a top medical organization threw its weight behind calls to cancel the Tokyo Olympics. The broader Topix index closed 0.66 percent lower at 1,895.24.

Air-conditioner maker Daikin Industries, construction equipment maker Komatsu and farm equipment major Kubota all fell around 4 percent.

Toyota Motor dropped 1.4 percent. The automaker announced it would halt production on three production lines at two factories next month due to a chip shortage.

Australian markets tumbled after Wall Street’s weak lead amid renewed inflation fears. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 slumped 134.30 points, or 1.90 percent, to 6,931.70, while the broader All Ordinaries index closed 1.83 percent lower at 7,165.70.

Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search lost 2-5 percent as oil extended losses after falling over 1 percent overnight ahead of an expected announcement on Iran’s nuclear deal.

Payment provider EML Payments plummeted as much as 45.6 percent after the Central Bank of Ireland flagged additional regulation for a subsidiary previously monitored by British authorities.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto gave up 3-4 percent while the big four banks fell between 1.1 percent and 2.5 percent. On the positive side, artificial intelligence crowdsourcing provider Appen soared 17.4 percent on restructuring news.

In economic news, the latest survey from Wetspac Bank and the Melbourne Institute revealed that the consumer confidence index in Australia fell 4.7 percent sequentially to a score of 113.1 in May from an eleven-year high of 118.8 in April.

New Zealand shares fell sharply as weak leads from overseas markets overshadowed some reasonable profit results. The benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 147.12 points, or 1.18 percent, to 12,281.50.

Travel software maker Serko slumped 6.7 percent after widening its full-year loss. Argosy Property lost 2.6 percent despite doubling its profit in the 2021 financial year.

U.S. stocks ended lower for a second straight session overnight as investors digested disappointing housing data and weighed signs of rising inflation.

The Dow shed 0.8 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gave up 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 dipped 0.9 percent.

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