Asian Shares Retreat On Growth Concerns

Asian stocks tumbled on Thursday after U.S. retail giants Target and Walmart missed earnings expectations by wide margins and issued back-to-back profit warnings, raising concerns over downside risks to growth.

Chinese shares eked out modest gains amid signs of easing COVID-19 restrictions. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4 percent to 3,096.96. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged 2.5 percent to 20,120.68 after Tencent reported a halving in its quarterly profit. Shares of the tech behemoth plummeted 6.5 percent.

Japanese shares lost ground as exports growth data for April fell short of expectations. Separate data showed that the country’s core machinery orders rose 7.1 per cent in March from the previous month, versus a 3.7 percent increase expected by economists.

The Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 1.9 percent to 26,402.84, snapping a four-day rally on concerns that surging inflation would eat into corporate profits and usher in an economic slowdown.

Tech and auto issues led losses, with heavyweight SoftBank Group declining 1.6 percent. Staffing agency Recruit Holdings and retailer Seven & i Holdings both fell around 4 percent.

Australian markets gave up last three days of gains as retailers succumbed to heavy selling pressure on fears of rising fuel and freight costs. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.7 percent to 7,064.50, while the broader All Ordinaries Index closed 1.7 percent lower at 7,303.30.

Wesfarmers plunged 7.8 percent to hit a one-and-a-half year low, JB Hi-Fi slumped 6.6 percent to reach a five-month low and Harvey Norman lost 5.5 percent to hit a nearly two-year low. Woolworths gave up 5.6 percent and its rival Coles tumbled 3.4 percent.

Banks and Miners also fell broadly while Aristocrat Leisure jumped 6.7 percent on share buyback news. Woodside Petroleum declined 2.8 percent after its shareholders overwhelmingly approved the company’s $41 billion merger with BHP Petroleum.

In economic news, data showed Australia posted its lowest jobless rate in 48 years.

New Zealand shares ended modestly lower, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index closing 0.5 percent lower at 11,206.93.

Seoul stocks retreated to snap a two-day winning streak on inflation woes. The Kospi fell 1.3 percent to 2,592.34 after a massive sell-off on Wall Street overnight.

Overnight, U.S. stocks suffered their sharpest fall in almost two years, as weak housing data and a series of disappointing quarterly results from some major retailers added to fears of a recession.

The Dow tumbled 3.6 percent and the S&P 500 lost 4 percent to close at their lowest levels in over a year, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plummeted 4.7 percent.

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