MIAMI, RAW – Asian stocks have opened sharply lower on Friday after Wall Street’s main indexes tumbled, with technology-related stocks under pressure following a steep rise in benchmark US Treasury yields.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 2 per cent in early trade, on track for the biggest intraday percentage loss since Jan. 28. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 1.8 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures lost 1.69 per cent.
US Treasury yields vaulted to their highest since the pandemic began on expectations of a strong economic expansion and related inflation. The bond sell-off accelerated after a disappointing auction of seven-year notes at midday.
“Fed officials aren’t stepping in the way of yield moves and are taking them as a signal of growing optimism in the recovery,” said Tapas Strickland in a research note, a director of economics and markets at National Australia Bank.
US stocks tumbled, forcing a decline in European equities that had rallied earlier on a bigger rise than expected in euro zone economic sentiment data for February.
Apple Inc, Tesla Inc, Amazon.com Inc , NVIDIA Corp and Microsoft Corp were the biggest drags on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
MSCI’s all-country world index fell 0.23 per cent, also pulled down by the big US tech names that make up a large component of the global stock benchmark.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.75 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 2.45 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.52 per cent, the biggest single-day decline in almost four months for the tech-heavy index.
Bond trading pushed up a closely watched part of the Treasury yield curve that measures the difference between yields on two- and 10-year notes. The gap, seen as an indicator of economic expectations, widened as much as 141 basis points, the most since 2015.
The 10-year Treasury note was up 14 basis points to yield 1.5286 per cent in late afternoon trade, prompting investors concerned about rich valuations to lock in profits on some high-flying growth stocks.
The dollar index rose 0.173 per cent, lifting off a seven-week low while the safe-haven Japanese yen, which tends to underperform when global growth improves, weakened 0.06 per cent versus the greenback at 106.28 per dollar.
Oil prices held near 13-month highs, with profit-taking limited by assurance that US interest rates will stay low and a sharp drop in US crude output last week due to the winter storm in Texas.
US crude recently fell 0.27 per cent to $US63.36 ($A79.60) per barrel and Brent was at $US67.08 ($A84.27), up 0.06 per cent on the day.
Spot gold added 0.1 per cent to $US1771.71 ($A2,225.81) an ounce. US gold futures fell 0.36 per cent to $US1768.00 ($A2,221.15) an ounce.