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Asia: Markets take breather but warnings of more volatility
[HONG KONG] Asian markets were mixed on Friday as trade tensions and geopolitical worries kept investors from tracking a rebound on Wall Street, with observers warning of further volatility to come.
Trading floors were a little calmer in early business after a punishing week that witnessed steep losses across the board, with several indexes wiping out their year's gains as the tech and energy sectors took a beating.
New York's three main indexes provided some solace by posting healthy gains thanks to some upbeat earnings but they are still down from last Friday's close and there is a feeling the bottom has not been found yet.
Analysts said there is a concern that even US markets have succumbed to the hefty selling pressure, having managed to ride out much of the volatility this year thanks to the strengthening domestic economy.
However, dealers there are now feeling the pinch from the China-US trade row and rising interest rates.
"Unlike the previous sell-off in 2018 that tended to hit a sector or two at a time, the breadth of the latest rout (is) much more pronounced as it is heavyweight champions of the US markets that are leading the way," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at Oanda.
"Indeed, this sell-off is entirely different as on top of the mountains of geopolitical risk, US interest rates are rising quickly and mercilessly squeezing financial conditions."
He said markets were seeing intermittent gains because of bargain-buying and "everyone expects 2019 to be a real stinker".
And Con Michalakis, chief investment officer at Statewide Super, told Bloomberg TV: "You're going to see a lot more volatility. It's going to be a feature of this environment."
In morning trading Hong Kong fell 0.3 per cent while Tokyo ended the morning down 0.2 per cent. Shanghai was up 0.3 per cent.
Sydney fell 0.1 per cent, Singapore dived one percent and Seoul shed 1.3 per cent but Wellington, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta were all in positive territory.
Energy firms enjoyed slight gains in Hong Kong and Japan but remain under pressure as oil prices retreat from their four-year highs seen at the start of the month, with a jump in US stockpiles and tensions with Saudi Arabia over the death of a journalist weighing on sentiment.