Reuters - Asia stock indexes widened their losses Tuesday as market participant sentiment dampened further on growing fears the spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus would harm the worldwide economic recovery, sending riskier assets skidding sharply.
Europe and U.S. markets look set to recover however with FTSE futures and E-mini futures for the S&P 500 index up 0.06% and 0.22% respectively.
MSCI's gauge of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan widened losses to nearly 1%, with Australia's S&P/ASX 200 down 0.44%.
Japan's Nikkei 225 hit a six-month low, down nearly 1%.
China deleveraging risks hurt property stocks and the broader market for a second day, causing a plunge in shares of heavily indebted developer China Evergrande Group. The Hang Seng Index plunged 1.16% while China's benchmark CSI300 Index slid 0.53%.
In China, officials kept the benchmark lending rate for corporate and household loans unchanged at its July fixing Tuesday, despite growing expectations for a cut after a surprise lowering of bank reserve requirements.
"The markets are clearly on risk-off mode," said Edison Pun, senior market analyst at Saxo Markets, adding that Wall Street's uptrend is weakening.
"Market participants are worried that a fresh outbreak could potentially hinder the pace of economic reopening. The next 1-2 months will be an important litmus test on governments' strategy in normalizing lives and economic activities amid the threat of the pandemic," said Tai Hui, chief Asia market strategist, J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
In a separate gauge of market participant risk appetite, bitcoin fell below $30,000 for the first time since June 22.
Stocks on Wall Street fell as much as 2% Monday, with the Dow posting its worst day in nine months as COVID-19 deaths increased in the United States.
Riskier assets worldwide have come under pressure recently as many countries struggle to contain the outbreak of the fast-spreading Delta virus variant, raising fears that further lockdowns and other restrictions could upend the worldwide economic recovery.
"Despite the vaccine rollout, markets do not appear to be learning to live with COVID-19," ANZ analysts wrote in a note to clients.
"Sentiment appears to have shifted, at least for the moment, to a persuasion that growth and earnings expectations may be overdone," they said, noting that risk-averse market participants were bailing out of commodities. U.S. yields turned higher Tuesday following Monday's searing rally. The 10-year yield rose to 1.2087% from a close of 1.181%, a level last seen in February, and the 2-year yield edged up to 0.2196% from 0.21% Tuesday.
However, while the U.S. yield curve steepened slightly, the spread between the U.S. 10-year and 2-year yield remained near February lows, signaling market participant doubts about the growth outlook.
JPMorgan's Hui said the drop in U.S. yields reflects reduced inflation expectations if reopening is delayed and potential downside risk to the economy, but that value and cyclical sectors should continue to outperform over the next 6-12 months given the continuing world recovery.
Japan's core consumer prices rose 0.2% in June from a year earlier to mark the fastest annual pace in over a year, driven largely by higher energy costs, a sign the impact of worldwide commodity inflation was gradually broadening.
Oil prices stabilized after slumping around 7% in the previous session amid worries about future demand and after an OPEC+ agreement to increase supply. Brent crude gained 1 cent to $68.63 a barrel by 0412 GMT. The U.S. crude contract for August delivery, which expires later Tuesday, was up 15 cents at $66.57 a barrel.
Spot gold was up 0.3% at $1,817.28 per ounce by 0503 GMT, after hitting a one-week low of $1,794.06 in the previous session.