[TOKYO] Volatile global markets showed signs of a respite from the recent blood-letting on Tuesday, as bargain hunters helped Asian stocks off three-year lows hit on fears that China's economy was risking a hard landing, with Chinese shares losing another 5 per cent.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan jumped 1.7 per cent after an initial dip to three-year lows while Japan's Nikkei index also erased most of its early losses after an intial drop of 4.3 per cent. "There appears to be buyback as many markets look oversold after panicky selling in the last few days. Even the shares that had little business ties with China were sold," said Yukino Yamada, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.
US stock futures also gained 2.0 per cent in Asia, paring a part of its 5-per cent fall the previous day.
But mainland Chinese shares bucked the trend, with Shanghai Composite Index falling another five per cent even after 15 per cent fall in the last three days, including 8.5 per cent drop on Monday. "Global investors are cannibalising each other. Calling it a market disaster is not an overstatement," said Zhou Lin, an analyst at Huatai Securities. "The mood of panic is dominating the market ... And I don't see any signs of meaningful government intervention." Underlining concerns about China, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday he hoped China would take action to stabilise its economy and that Tokyo had no plan for now to unveil its own new economic stimulus package.
MSCI's all country world index is up 0.2 per cent in Asia after having fallen 3.8 per cent on Monday to a 10 1/2-month low, its biggest fall in almost four years.
Global share markets have been hit by worries that the Chinese economy, the most important engine for the world economy, was growing at a much slower pace than Beijing's 7 per cent target for 2015.
Investors are also unnerved by uncertainty over US monetary policy. The Federal Reserve has said it plans to raise interest rates this year for the first time in almost a decade.
The heavy fall in share prices worldwide over the past week has sharply reduced expectations of a US rate hike in September, but the outlook is far from clear.
Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, whose comments earlier this month sparked expectations of a hike in September, said on Monday that the Federal Reserve will likely begin raising rates "sometime this year." On Wall Street, the S&P 500 Index fell 3.9 per cent to a 10-month low on Monday. The CBOE volatility index, a key measure of US equity volatility, shot up to more than 50 per cent at one point for the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis.
Because some investors often fund their investment in risk assets by borrowing low-yielding euro and yen, the sell-off in shares helped send both currencies to seven-month highs.
The euro rose as high as US$1.1715 while the yen strengthened to 116.15 to the dollar.
But both currencies stepped back in Asia. The euro slipped 0.7 per cent to US$1.1531 while the yen retreated to 120.02 to the dollar.
Oil prices also stabilised in Asia after having plunged more than 6 per cent on Monday to 6 1/2-year lows.
US crude futures traded at US$38.73 per barrel, gaining a dollar from Monday's low of US$37.75.
Brent crude futures last stood at US$43.20 after having fallen to US$42.23 on Monday.
Brent still stood not far from US$36.20, its low hit in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, having fallen more than 66 per cent from last year's peak.