Asian markets slip on fears of US slowdown


SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were mostly lower after President Donald Trump said that there was “nothing new” on the partial government shutdown over a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

U.S. markets, which were closed for Christmas, were set to open higher on Wednesday. Stocks are still headed for their worst December since the Great Depression in 1931.

Futures for S&P 500 added 0.3 percent to 2,349.25. Dow futures were up 0.2 percent at 21,744.00.

Markets in Europe, Hong Kong and Australia were closed.

ASIA’S DAY: South Korea’s Kospi gave up 1.3 percent to 2,028.01 and the Shanghai Composite index shed 0.3 percent to 2,498.29. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, which plunged 5 percent on Tuesday, picked up 0.9 percent to 19,327.06. Shares fell in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia but rose in Thailand.

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U.S. SHUTDOWN: The partial shutdown of the U.S. government that started Saturday shows no signs of abating. “Nothing new. Nothing new on the shutdown. Nothing new. Except we need border security,” Trump told reporters. The White House said Trump will reject any deal that does not include funding for a wall or a fence. The Democrats have opposed this and are offering $1.3 billion for security. The routines of 800,000 federal employees are expected to be disrupted by the shutdown, but essential services will keep running.

FED CRITICISM: Trump’s criticism of the U.S. central bank triggered a drop in Asian equities on Tuesday. “The only problem our economy has is the Fed,” the president said on Twitter. “They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders.” Trump has since said that interest rate hikes were a “form of safety” for an economy that was doing well, while stressing that the Fed was raising rates too quickly.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “The outsized moves are not reflective of the current U.S. economic landscape, but that seems to matter little so far as fear mongering continues to permeate every pocket of global capital markets,” Stephen Innes of OANDA said in a market commentary.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 45 cents to $42.98 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled at $42.53 a barrel in New York on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 3 cents to $50.50 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 110.49 yen from 110.31 yen. The euro rose to $1.1393 from $1.1392.

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