Asian Shares Edge Lower as Traders Weigh the Prospect of U.S. Debt Default

Asian markets mostly edged lower on Thursday, tracking losses on Wall Street overnight, as investors fretted over the prospect of a U.S. debt default as the deadline approached.

Besides the risk of a US default on its debt, investors were also weighing the prospect of more rate hike by the Federal Reserve, and signs of softening in the Chinese economy.

As of 9:39 a.m. Bangkok time, the Kospi index in South Korea has down 0.35% after the central bank held rates unchanged at 3.5% for the third consecutive meeting since January. This made it one of the first Asian banks to halt its interest rate upcycle.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.47%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was 0.93% lower.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong hit a new two-month low, dropping 1.51% down below the 19,000 mark for the first time since March 20.

The Shanghai Composite in mainland China also declined 0.10%. 

U.S. stock markets plummeted across the board overnight as investors worried over the debt ceiling and Fitch put the United States’ AAA rating on negative monitoring. Minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve show that officials were split on whether interest rates should be raised.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.77 points yesterday, its fourth consecutive day of declines. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite had losses of 0.73% and 0.61%, respectively.