Asian shares declined on Tuesday in morning session amid signs of pessimism about world growth, after the International Monetary Fund slashed its world economic forecast on Monday.
Japan's Nikkei 225 declined marginally by 0.07%. Shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing, the company behind the Uniqlo chain of apparel stores, slipped about 0.3%.
South Korea’s Kospi was lower by more than 0.5% despite the country’s economic growth for the fourth quarter of 2018 coming in above expectations.
In the Greater China region, the Shanghai composite fell nearly 0.4% in early trade, while the Shenzhen composite shed 0.48%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.5%.
The ASX 200 declined by about 0.5%, despite most sectors seeing gains. The heavily-weighted financial subindex Down Under declined more than 1% as shares of the country’s so-called Big Four banks saw losses. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group slipped 1.49%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia declined 1.29%, Westpac fell 1.45% and National Australia Bank shed 1.32%.
US markets were closed on Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Equity prices were hit after data showed a slowdown in growth in China, the world’s second biggest economy. Adding to the air of caution and uncertainty, the IMF trimmed its global growth forecasts on Monday, cautioning that the economic momentum seen in recent years is slowing.
In currency news, the US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.321 after touching an earlier low of 96.305.
The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 109.61 against the greenback after seeing levels below 109.5 in the previous session.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.1% but was still within striking distance of a seven-week top touched the previous day. US markets were closed on Monday.