HONG KONG: Hong Kong led a sell-off across Asian markets Monday as profit-takers moved in following a six-day rally, while traders look ahead to the release of corporate earnings.
With few catalysts to drive buying, equities were ripe for selling after last week’s healthy gains, with the US government shutdown — now in its fourth week and showing no sign of ending soon — instilling a sense of unease.
Also on the agenda is Tuesday’s key Brexit vote, with British Prime Minister Theresa May making an 11th hour appeal to MPs to pass her agreement with the EU, which is expected to be voted down by a wide margin.
In early trade Hong Kong shed more than one percent after chalking up gains of more than six percent over the previous six trading days, while Shanghai eased 0.2 percent and Sydney lost 0.1 percent.
Singapore slipped 0.5 percent with Taipei 0.4 percent lower, Manila down 0.9 percent and Jakarta losing 0.3 percent.
Tokyo was closed for a holiday.
The losses follow a negative lead from Wall Street, where all three main indexes fell Friday, ending a healthy week that had been boosted by optimism China and the US are edging towards a trade deal, while the Federal Reserve indicated it could pause its interest rate hikes.
Trifecta Consultants analyst Sukrit Vijayakar said the “optimism surrounding the US-China trade talks faded”, pointing out that while statements from both sides were positive, they were vague and “lacked concrete details”.
Data Monday showed China’s trade surplus with the US — a major source of anger for President Donald Trump — widened 17.2 percent last year.