Global markets: Asia stocks fall, China market rout continues

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Updated: July 3, 2015 12:12:32 PM

Asian stocks fell as Chinese stocks extended their plunge and growing caution ahead of Greece's referendum prompted investors to cut risky bets, while disappointing U.S. employment data weighed on the dollar.

Asian stocks fell as Chinese stocks extended their plunge and growing caution ahead of Greece’s referendum prompted investors to cut risky bets, while disappointing U.S. employment data weighed on the dollar.

Stocks in Shanghai trimmed earlier declines but were still down about 3 percent in afternoon trade, taking total losses to nearly 30 percent since a peak on June 12.

The rout in China’s stock markets has wiped out trillions of dollars of market capitalization in Shanghai and Shenzhen’s stock markets.

Financial spreadbetters expected Britain’s FTSE 100 to open down 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX up 0.2 percent, and France’s CAC 40 or 0.3 percent higher.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.6 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index ended broadly flat while Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.1 percent.

“Some of the stocks which have seen bubbly valuations in China have been the hardest hit in this selloff, and risk sentiment is broadly under pressure ahead of the weekend referendum,” said Nicholas Yeo, head of equities (China/Hong Kong) at Aberdeen Asset Management with assets under management of US$490.8 billion globally.

China’s tech-heavy ChiNext index which had more than doubled to be the world’s hottest stock market, is down nearly 40 percent from this year’s highs.

With U.S. markets closed on Friday in observance of Independence Day, market watchers will have plenty of time to mull the weak overnight employment data and its implications for monetary policymaking.

Employers hired 223,000 workers last month, fewer than the 230,000 increase forecast by economists polled by Reuters. The government also downgraded its reading on April and May job growth.

Investors had been hoping that solid improvement in the labour market would reinforce expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates as early as September.

“It is not that market expectations have radically changed. But markets are pushing back their expectations a little bit. Some people who expected a September hike may now see a rate rise in December,” said Yoshinori Shigemi, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

U.S. interest rate futures price gained a few ticks following the data, with a hike in December now seen as less certain than before, despite recent comments from Fed officials that interest rates will likely be raised later this year.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield was trading near the session’s lows of 2.39 percent from a high of 2.470 percent hit just before the payroll data.

Caution reigned ahead of Greece’s Sunday referendum on an international bailout deal that could ultimately determine whether it stays or not in the euro zone.

The International Monetary Fund warned on Thursday that Greece would need an extension of its European Union loans and a potentially a large debt writeoff if it cannot implement economic reforms and its growth slows.

“Investors will probably look to JPY as a risk-hedge going into the referendum,” Steven Englander, global head of G10 FX strategy at Citi, said in a note to clients.

The dollar slipped after the overnight jobs data. Against the Japanese currency, it was changing hands at 123.08 yen , a shade above than Thursday’s 123.04.

The euro was also steady on the day at 136.42 yen, and $1.1094.

In commodities trading, U.S. crude fell about 0.4 percent to $56.71, after data from Baker Hughes showed the number of rigs drilling for oil rose by 12 this week, the first rise since December.

Iron ore prices were under pressure, with Shanghai rebar futures hitting a record low on Thursday on demand concerns.

That in turn put pressure on the Australian dollar, which stood at $0.7586.

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