HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese stocks seesawed Tuesday as worries lingered over the country's financial markets and economic outlook, fueling volatility in other Asian benchmarks.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 reopened after a holiday, falling 2.1 percent to 17,322.56 as the index caught up with losses the previous day on other Asian markets. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China fluctuated between gains and losses and was 0.3 percent lower at 3,008.65. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.3 percent to 19,944.14. South Korea's Kospi edged lower to 1,891.98 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 reversed early gains to dip 0.2 percent to 4,920.60.
CHINA VOLATILITY: Worries about the Beijing's ability to manage financial markets coupled with deepening fears about a protracted slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy continue to keep investors on edge after sharp losses over the past week. Stocks in Shanghai appeared to be searching for direction in initial trading a day after losing 5 percent, with downward momentum winning out. A firmer yuan failed to help sentiment. Investors have been closely watching China's tightly controlled currency following last week's market turmoil, which was triggered by authorities setting the daily rate at its lowest in five years. However on Tuesday the yuan weakened by a mere 2 basis points to 6.5628 against the U.S dollar.
QUOTABLE: "In the Chinese equity markets so much damage was done to investor confidence last week" by new "circuit breaker" trading halt mechanisms that backfired, said analyst Angus Nicholson of IG. "I think that has really done a significant amount of damage to Chinese investor confidence and confidence in the government's ability to manage and regulate Chinese capital markets," he said. "Concerns about how the Chinese economy is faring has only added to these other concerns. I think we still are seeing that today."
WALL STREET: Two of the big three U.S. benchmarks finished slightly higher Monday after mounting a last-minute comeback, snapping a three-day losing streak. The Dow added 0.3 percent to close at 16,398.57 while the S&P 500 index rose 0.1 percent to 1,923.67. The Nasdaq fell 0.1 percent to 4,637.99.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude extended losses, falling 41 cents to $31.00 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.75, or 5.3 percent, to settle at $31.41 a barrel on Monday. The last time it finished lower was Dec. 5, 2003, when it closed at $30.73 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 34 cents to $31.54 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar edged lower to 117.62 yen from 117.63 in the previous day's trading. The euro rose to $1.0875 from $1.0861.