Asian markets mixed; China Evergrande shares suspended

Tokyo: Asian markets were mixed on Monday, with Shanghai closed for the National Day holiday.

Hong Kong’s benchmark shed more than 2% after troubled property developer China Evergrande’s shares were suspended from trading.

The company did not say why, but a Chinese financial news service, Cailian, said another major developer was planning to buy Evergrande’s property management unit.

Evergrande is struggling to make payments on tens of billions of dollars worth of debt as it endures a cash crunch brought on by a tightening of Chinese government restrictions on debt-leveraged financing.

The Hang Seng sank 2.3% to 24,011.72 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 dropped 1.1% to 28,457.15. Shares also fell in Taiwan. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.8% to 7,246.10.

Markets were closed for holidays in Shanghai and South Korea.

Crude prices fell slightly ahead of a meeting of major oil producers. There was no sign that a spill from a pipeline off the California coast was having an impact on prices.

An estimated 126,000 gallons (572,807 liters) of heavy crude were thought to have leaked from an underwater pipeline offshore from Orange County. By late Sunday the leak was reported stanched.

The environmental impact was likely to be much worse than any effect on overall oil supplies. The amount leaked was about 3,000 barrels, while the U.S. produces more than 18 million barrels of crude oil a day.

U.S. benchmark crude oil shed 21 cents to 75.67 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile exchange. It gained 85 cents to 75.88 per barrel on Friday.

Brent crude, the international standard for pricing, lost 16 cents to 79.12 per barrel.

Oil prices have been hovering at 3-year highs after Hurricane Ida slammed into a critical port that serves as the primary support hub for the Gulf of Mexico’s deepwater offshore oil and gas industry in the U.S., worsening the supply situation, at least temporarily.

OPEC and other major oil producers were stung by deep production cuts in 2020 during the depths of the pandemic and have been increasing output slowly.

OPEC plus members due to meet on Monday could consider raising production levels to meet rising demand, Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

Wall Street rebounded on Friday, led by companies that would benefit most from a healthier economy. The S&P 500 gained 1.1% to 4,357.04. But U.S. markets still had their worst week since the winter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.4% to 34,326.46. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.8% to 14,566.70.

Merck & Co. leaped 8.4% after it said its experimental pill to treat COVID-19 cut hospitalizations and deaths by half. Prospects for an additional tool to tame the pandemic helped lift shares of airlines, hotels and companies hurt by restrictions on travel and other activities.

The S&P 500 still dropped to a weekly loss of 2.2%, its worst since February. A swift rise in interest rates earlier this week rattled the market and forced a reassessment of whether stocks had grown too expensive.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady Monday at 1.47%.

September was also the worst month for the S&P 500 since March 2020, when markets plunged as COVID-19 shutdowns took hold.

Among the worries that have weighed on the market: The Federal Reserve is close to letting off the accelerator on its support for markets, economic data has recently been mixed following an upturn in COVID-19 infections, corporate tax rates may be set to rise and political turmoil continues in Washington.

In currency trading, the dollar rose to 111.06 Japanese yen from 110.96 yen late Friday. The euro slipped to 1.1591 from 1.1600.