Asian Shares Slip on Economic Outlook Fears

By Elaine Kurtenbach 11 April 2012

SHANGHAI—Asian shares slumped further on Wednesday following an overnight sell-off on Wall Street that gave the US markets their worst loss so far this year.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell one percent to 9,445.10, dipping at one point to its lowest level in about two months, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.3 percent to 20,093.39. Seoul’s Kospi slipped edged 0.1 percent lower to 1,994.41.

Weaker than expected trade data from China on Tuesday added to concerns over its slowing economy and jitters over upcoming corporate earnings reports in the US The weakness in share markets is deepening worries over the global outlook, while in Europe, Spain is under pressure to show it can rekindle growth and avoid a bailout.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index was little changed at 2,306.41. Elsewhere in Asia, the benchmark indexes in Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Indonesia and Singapore were all lower.

The decline on Wall Street over the past five days has wiped out more than half the first quarter gain of the Dow Jones industrial average, which fell 213.66 points on Tuesday to close at 12,715.93, its lowest since Feb. 2.

Tepid hiring in March has fueled doubts that US economic growth is strong enough to justify the recent rally in global stocks.

Markets will be closely watching for first quarter gross domestic product results, starting with China on Friday. China lowered its GDP growth target last month to 7.5 percent, sparking concern the world’s second-largest economy is slowing faster than expected.

In Japan, Sony Corp.’s shares dropped five percent following news late on Tuesday that the electronics giant more than doubled its projected net loss for the fiscal year through March to 520 billion yen (US $6.4 billion), its worst loss ever, due to a massive tax charge.

In currency markets, the dollar edged higher to 80.75 yen while the euro was little changed at $1.3080.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 19 cents to $101.21 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.44 on Tuesday to $101.02.