Asian stocks fall after Wall St. breaks 4-day winning streak

AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon
Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on Thursday.

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets sank Thursday after Chinese manufacturing weakened and Russian shelling around Ukraine’s capital shook hopes of progress in peace talks.

Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo declined while Seoul gained. Oil fell nearly $7 per barrel in New York but stayed above $100.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell 0.6% on Wednesday after U.S. economic growth was weaker than expected.

Russian forces shelled areas near Kyiv and another city Wednesday after Moscow said it would scale back operations there to promote trust. Negotiators were meeting in Turkey to try to end the five-week-old war.

Russia is “pouring cold water on headlines of constructive cease-fire talks,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost less than 0.2% to 3,261.04 after an index of manufacturing activity fell to a five-month low after China shut down much of Shanghai and two smaller industrial cities to fight coronavirus outbreaks.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 0.8% to 22,062.09.

“The near-term outlook remains highly uncertain,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report. “Even if the outbreak is brought under control soon, it will still take a while for the economy to get back on track.”

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.2% to 27,977.98 while the Kospi in Seoul gained 0.6% to 2,761.78.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.4% to 7,546.00. New Zealand and Singapore declined while Jakarta advanced.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 declined to 4,602.45 after Commerce Department data showed the U.S. economy grew at an annual pace of 6.9% in the final quarter of 2021, below forecasts.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2% to 35,228.81. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.2% to 14,442.27.

Markets have mostly gained ground this week as talks between Russia and Ukraine seemed to show progress.

Unease over possible disruption of Russian oil and gas exports added to concern about higher U.S. interest rates and a Chinese economic slowdown.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department is due to release its personal income and spending report for February. The Labor Department will release U.S. employment data for March on Friday.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude tumbled $6.67 to $101.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $3.58 on Wednesday to $107.82. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, fell $5.29 to $106.15 per barrel in London. It rose $3.22 the pervious session to $113.45.

President Joe Biden is preparing to order the release of up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve to help control energy prices, according to two people familiar with the decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview it.

The steady release from the reserves would be a meaningful amount and come near to closing the domestic production gap relative to February 2020, before the coronavirus caused a steep decline in oil output.

The dollar advanced to 122.22 yen from Wednesday’s 121.78 yen. The euro rose to $1.1167 from $1.1159.