Shares in Australia and across Asia Pacific have fallen sharply amid a new flare-up of US-Chinese trade tensions.
Despite a senior Chinese leader saying Beijing wanted to resolve the dispute with “calm negotiations”, indices were deep in the red on Monday.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index in Sydney closed down 83 points, or 1.27%, and the pattern was the same across markets in Asia Pacific where Hong Kong saw the heaviest losses. The Hang Seng index was off 3% in afternoon trading, the Nikkei in Tokyo was down more than 2%, Seoul’s Kospi was down 1.5% and the Shanghai Composite fell 1.3%.
The escalation in trade tensions over the weekend sent the Chinese yuan tumbling to an 11-year low in onshore trade on Monday as investors went into cautious mode. The Australian dollar dropped 0.4% to US67.32c.
Yields on benchmark 10-year US treasury debt dropped to their lowest since mid-2016 as money was funnelled into the safety of government debt and gold hit its highest since April 2013.
In Australia, energy and tech shares fell 2.91% and 2.82% respectively, leading losses as every sector started in the red.
The industrial, financial, consumer discretionary, consumer staple, healthcare and telecommunications sectors were also down by more than 1% after the first 15 minutes of trading.
Mining giant BHP was down 2.12% to $34.67, Rio Tinto was down 2.62% to $82.775 and Fortescue Metals was down 3.57% to $7.30.
The big four banks – ANZ , Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac – were down between 1.55% and 2.52%.
The Chinese government announced retaliatory tariffs on $US75bn of US goods on Friday and the US president, Donald Trump, countered by saying his country would raise its existing tariffs on $US250bn worth of Chinese imports to 30% from 25% beginning on 1 October.
On Wall Street on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 2.37%, the S&P 500 was down 2.59% and the Nasdaq Composite was down 3%.
Chris Weston, head of research at the brokers Pepperstone in Melbourne, said there was a growing belief that Trump was not concerned about the negative impact of his policies on share prices.
“The fact that many are now seeing the division between Xi and Trump as something more sinister than just a trade war has seen [the case] for a global recession increase …” he said.
Trump’s calls for US businesses to pull out of China would impact their sales and net interest margins, he said, adding another layer of concern. “We are even hearing, at a worst-case-scenario, that the US could restrict China’s access to the financial markets and that is a genuinely scary proposition.”
Chinese vice premier Liu He said on Monday that China was willing to resolve its trade dispute with the United States through calm negotiations and resolutely opposed the escalation of the conflict, a state-backed newspaper reported.
Liu, China’s top trade negotiator, was speaking at a tech conference in Chongqing in south-west China, the Chongqing Morning Post reported.
Australian Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.