Shares fell Monday in Asia, with Hong Kong’s benchmark pulled lower by property stocks following reports that police had detained staff at the wealth management business of troubled real estate developer China Evergrande.
U.S. futures edged higher and oil prices advanced.
Tokyo’s markets were closed for a national holiday.
On Friday, China’s national financial regulator announced it had approved the takeover of the group’s life insurance arm by a new state-owned entity. On Saturday, police in the southern city of Shenzhen, where Evergrande is based, announced the arrests of some staff of its wealth management business.
Defaults on debts in the property sector since 2021 have resulted in half-finished apartment buildings, disgruntled homebuyers and fears the industry’s troubles might further slow the world’s second-largest economy and shake global financial markets.
Evergrande’s Hong Kong traded shares were up 1.6% after plunging early in the session. Country Garden, another developer facing huge debt obligations amid a slowdown in the industry and a crackdown on excessive borrowing, saw its shares rise 0.9%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.9% to 18,019.63 and the Shanghai Composite index was down less than 0.1%, at 3,116.28. In Seoul, the Kospi fell 0.9% to 2,578.72. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.7% to 7,230.10.
On Friday, Wall Street benchmarks fell, with technology stocks posing the biggest drag on the market.
The S&P 500 lost 1.2% to 4,450.32. The Dow fell 0.8% to 34,618.24 and the Nasdaq composite gave back 1.6%, closing at 13,708.33.
The market had posted some gains last week following reports of several healthy economic indicators ahead of the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting, which ends Wednesday. That, and a meeting of Japan’s central bank, are the biggest highlights expected for the week.
U.S. automaker stocks proved resilient after members of the United Auto Workers union walked off the job at several plants overnight. Ford slipped 0.1% and General Motors rose 0.9%. Shares in Stellantis gained 1.9% in trading on the Milan Stock Exchange in Italy.
Investors are bound to focus on the Fed’s meeting. The central bank raised rates aggressively through 2022 and 2023 in an effort to tame inflation, but it maintained interest rate levels at its last meeting. Inflation has generally been easing back to the central bank’s target of 2%.
Inflation at the consumer level edged higher than expected in August, but high gasoline prices were the biggest driver. Oil prices have been climbing over the summer after Saudi Arabia decided to maintain production cuts. That raised concerns about gasoline prices rising and stoking inflation.
Traders are overwhelmingly betting that the Fed will hold interest rates steady. They also expect the central bank could hold rates steady for the rest of the year. The Fed has said it remains willing to continue raising rates if it seems necessary to continue fighting inflation.
In other trading Monday, benchmark U.S. crude oil gained 52 cents to $91.29 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added 61 cents to $90.77 a barrel on Friday.
Brent crude, the pricing standard for international trading, was up 39 cents at $94.32 a barrel.
The U.S. dollar inched up to 147.74 Japanese yen from 147.72 yen. The euro was unchanged at $1.0666.