Hong Kong stocks lead Asia’s slump; Tokyo and Shanghai closed

Hong Kong stocks lead Asia’s slump;  Tokyo and Shanghai closed

Hong Kong property companies and banks lost ground on persisting concerns over the potential for ripple effects from the financial troubles of Chinese developer Evergrande. The company was expected to miss interest payments, as ratings companies forecast it may default on its debt.

Other regional benchmarks also fell after Wall Street wrapped up last week with another decline. Investors are watching to see whether the Federal Reserve will take any action to address the impact of rising prices on businesses and consumers. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 3.5% to 24,035.30 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 1.6% to 7,287.90. Markets were closed in mainland China, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia.

The Fed is due to deliver its latest economic and interest rate policy update on Wednesday. The central bank has said higher costs for raw materials and consumer goods are still likely to be temporary as the economy recovers, but analysts worry that higher prices could stick around and dent companies’ bottom lines while also crimping spending. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.37% from 1.38% on Friday.

Stocks closed lower on Wall Street Friday, marking a feeble ending to an up-and-down week of trading. The S&P 500 index lost 0.9% to 4,432.99, for its second straight weekly loss. Roughly 80% of the stocks in the benchmark S&P 500 fell, and every sector except health care was in the red. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5% to 34,584.88, and the Nasdaq fell 0.9% to 15,043.97.

Technology and communications companies were the biggest drags on the market. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies recovered from an early slide, rising 0.2% to 2,236.87. “Quadruple witching,” the simultaneous expiration of four kinds of options and futures contracts, contributed to market volatility. The phenomenon happens four times a year and forces traders to tie up loose ends in contracts they hold. More than 750 billion single stock options were due to mature Friday, said McKnight.

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