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Hong Kong, Japan stocks down 2% as Asia-Pacific markets tumble following volatility on Wall Street

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SINGAPORE — Japan and Hong Kong stocks dropped 2% as Asia-Pacific markets tumbled on Tuesday after a volatile session overnight on Wall Street.

The Nikkei 225 fell nearly 2% as auto and tech stocks were largely down, and the Topix fell 1.84%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 2% before recovering slightly.

The ASX 200 lost nearly 3% as banks, miners and oil stocks all tumbled across the board. Bank stocks such as ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank all fell around 3%. Oil stocks dived as Santos fell 4.53%, Beach Energy dived 6.54% and Woodwide Petroleum fell 3.82%.

Inflation in Australia rose 1.3% in the fourth quarter, and 3.5% for the year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. Prices increased at its fastest annual pace since 2014, Reuters reported.

In South Korea, the Kospi also declined around 1.84%.

Mainland Chinese stocks were slightly lower. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.35%, and the Shenzhen Component was down 0.45%.

South Korea’s economy grew 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter, the Bank of Korea said in a press release on Tuesday. For the full year, the country’s GDP expanded by 4% in 2021, the fastest in 11 years, according to Reuters.

On the earnings front, Hyundai Motors is slated to report fourth-quarter results.

U.S. volatility

U.S. markets were volatile on Monday. Stocks sold off earlier in the session but mounted a dramatic comeback as investors stepped in to buy beaten-up tech shares.

The Dow rallied after being down 1,115 points at one point, closing up 99.13 points, or 0.3%, at 34,364.50, gaining for the first day in seven. The S&P 500 closed in the green after briefly hitting correction territory earlier in the session, falling more than 10% from its Jan. 3 record close. It finished 0.3% higher at 4,410.13.

The Nasdaq Composite Index turned positive after being down as much as 4.9% earlier in the session, gaining 0.6% at 13,855.13.

“The recent sell-off in stocks reflects concern about the Fed tightening at a time when the economic momentum is slowing. However after eight straight days of selling and 10% drop year to date, more attractive valuations especially in technology stocks attracted bargain hunters,” Kathy Lien of 60 Second Investor wrote in a Tuesday note.

Oil prices also fell around 2% overnight on those expectations of Fed tightening. The Federal Open Market Committee is due to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to decide on the next steps for U.S. monetary policy.

U.S. crude edged up 0.74% to $83.93 per barrel in early Asia trading, and Brent futures rose 0.75% to $86.92.

Geopolitical tensions were in focus as well, with fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine growing, as the military buildup at the border shows no sign of dissipating and crisis talks remain at an impasse.

Currencies

Bitcoin returned to positive territory after crashing to a new low on Monday. On Monday, bitcoin fell to $32,982.11, its lowest point since July, according to Coin Metrics. But the largest cryptocurrency by market cap was up 5.6% in afternoon trading around $37,183.25, as broader equities reversed course and ended the day higher. It last traded at $36,093 during Asia hours.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.93, rising sharply from levels around 95.6.

The Japanese yen traded at 113.80 per dollar, strengthening slightly from around the 114 level previously. The Australian dollar was at $0.7152, dropping from around $0.717.

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