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Asia shares fall as global energy crunch fuels inflation worries

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Asia shares fall as global energy crunch fuels inflation worries

HONG KONG: Asian shares dropped and the safe-haven dollar held firm on Tuesday, as a global energy crunch fuelled inflation fears, clouding investor sentiment before the U.S. corporate earnings season.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.9% in early trade, after U.S. stocks ended the previous session with mild losses. U.S. stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, fell 0.43%.

Australian shares slipped 0.29% while Japan’s Nikkei stock index slid 1.03%.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was 0.75% lower, while the Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index opened down 1.35%.

“Risk markets had a mixed start to the week amid light data flow and ahead of the US earnings season,” ANZ analysts said in a note.

“Economies appear to be entering a more challenging phase of the cycle and we think investors and corporates will be monitoring how the economic data and earnings results fall before making assessments of near term direction.”

Also weighing on investor sentiment, Reuters reported that some of China Evergrande Group’s offshore bondholders have not received interest payment by a Monday deadline. Rivals Modern Land and Sinic became the latest developers scrambling to delay bond payment deadlines.

The Evergrande’s debt troubles and contagion worries have sent shockwaves across global markets in recent months and the firm has already missed payments on dollar bonds, worth a combined $131 million, that were due on Sept. 23 and Sept. 29.

Wall Street’s main indexes ended a choppy session lower on Monday as investors grew nervous ahead of third-quarter earnings reporting season.

A rally in basic material and energy shares on higher oil prices initially lifted major U.S. stock indices. But the gains faded amid concerns about earnings, set to kick off with JPMorgan Chase & Co results on Wednesday.

Some analysts expect companies to report slowing growth due to supply-chain snags and rising prices. They warned that this could lead to a drop in U.S. stocks.

JPMorgan shares were down 2.1% and among the biggest drags on the S&P 500, which lost 0.69% to 4,361.19.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.72% to 34,496.06, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.64% to 14,486.20.

After U.S. data last week showed weaker jobs growth than expected in September, the focus now shifts to inflation and retail sales numbers this week. Investors also expect the Federal Reserve to begin tightening policy by announcing a tapering of its massive bond-buying next month.

The prospect of accelerating inflation and tighter monetary policy lifted bond yields.

The yield on benchmark 10-year yield touched 1.6136% after a strong rise on Monday. The two-year yield rose to 0.3517%, up from its U.S. close of 0.318%.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, was up at 94.423.

Gold, usually seen as a hedge against inflation, was slightly lower. Spot gold was traded at $1753.55 per ounce.

Oil prices, which had jumped on Monday on rebounding demand and cutbacks in supply, dropped slightly with U.S. crude down 0.36% to $80.23 a barrel. Brent crude fell to $83.39 per barrel.

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