Asian stock markets plunged Thursday as investors turned their attention to the U.S. fiscal cliff after President Barack Obama’s re-election for a second term.
Japanese benchmark Nikkei plunged 1.51 percent or 135.74 points to 8,837.15, Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 2.09 percent or 462.37 points to 21,637.48 and Chinese Shanghai Composite slipped 1.63 percent or 34.22 points to 2,071.51 while South Korea’s KOSPI Composite plunged 1.19 percent and India’s BSE Sensex declined 0.52 percent.
Markets opened on a negative note, following a slump on Wall Street overnight as concerns over the looming U.S. fiscal cliff and European debt crisis weighed on the sentiment. All the three major U.S. indices plunged more than 2 percent, with the Dow Jones Industrial average closing below 13,000 for the first time in three months as investors were concerned about the fiscal cliff, a term used to describe a raft of tax increases and spending cuts that will automatically poised to start next year and possibly push the U.S. back into another recession if nothing is done by the Congress and the President.
Investors feared that how Obama would deal with the fiscal cliff which is not any easier with the U.S. House of Representatives is still held by the opposition Republicans and Democrats controlling the Senate. However, both the White House and House Speaker (Republican) John Boehner signaled their readiness to negotiate a budget deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
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“Investors are taking a step back and thinking the fiscal cliff is looming. There’s going to be a protracted battle to resolve it and markets are moving to price that uncertain outcome accordingly,” Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne, told Bloomberg.
Japanese shares plunged, led by declines from exporter companies due to a stronger yen and the weaker-than-expected September machinery orders. Official data showed that Japan’s machinery orders declined 4.3 percent in September on a monthly basis after falling 3.3 percent in the previous month and also fell short of analysts’ estimate of 2.1 percent monthly gain.
Among the stocks, Honda Motor Co Ltd. plunged 3.47 percent and Citizen Holdings Co Ltd. slumped 7.91 percent while Canon Inc. and Komatsu Ltd. fell 2.53 percent and 2.16 percent respectively.
In Hong Kong, Sands China Ltd. plunged 3.03 percent and Esprit Holdings Ltd. fell 2.79 percent while Aluminum Corp of China Ltd. plunged 3.12 percent.
Seoul shares fell as declines from exporters weighed. Kia Motors Corp. declined 2.21 percent and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. fell 0.88 percent.
On the economic front, South Korea's M2 Money Supply grew at a slower rate in September than in the previous month, indicating that more monetary easing policies are necessary to increase the amount of currency in circulation, which in turn can result in reviving the country’s economic growth.