Asian markets were back in negative territory Wednesday following a rout on Wall Street as traders are faced with a perfect storm of crises including China's Covid-linked economic woes, US interest rate hikes, soaring inflation, and the Ukraine war.
The downbeat mood across the world has been compounded by weak earnings from some of the world's biggest companies, while pledges of support from Beijing have largely fallen on deaf ears.
Tech firms, who rely on debt to drive growth, led a plunge in New York on fears that the Federal Reserve is at the beginning of a period of sharp rate increases aimed at taming scorching inflation.
The numerous issues around the world are acting as a massive drag on sentiment, with many worrying about the global economic outlook.
While about 80 percent of S&P 500 firms reporting so far have beat expectations, National Australia Bank's Ray Attrill said misses by high-profile names were taking the spotlight.
This came "amid deepening concerns that corporate earnings, however strong now, cannot usurp the stiffening (global) economic headwinds stemming primarily from the ongoing war in Ukraine and China’s Covid-zero policy".
China's Omicron crisis has seen officials lockdown Shanghai, the country's biggest city, while there are fears Beijing will soon follow as infections continue to rise there.
That has raised concerns about already strained supply chains and that a crucial driver of world growth is enduring a serious economic slowdown. Asian markets tracked Wall Street down.
There was a minor bounce in early trade for Hong Kong and Shanghai following a report that Xi Jinping had committed to boosting infrastructure construction as a means of accelerating the economy.
The comments were the latest from China's top brass, who have made a series of promises in recent weeks to kickstart growth, but analysts said the key cause of worry for investors was the leaders' refusal to back away from their Covid strategy.
"The market is no longer responsive because there's no easing up of the negative in view right now," said Yang Ziyi, at Shenzhen Sinowise Investment.
"We just need to wait. We saw the same kind of numbness towards vocal support during the burst of the 2015 bubble and in 2018."
There were also losses in Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Wellington, Taipei, Manila, and Jakarta. And analysts said there was a lot of uncertainty on trading floors.
"We know that sentiment is in a terrible state right now," said Lori Calvasina, of RBC Capital Markets, on Bloomberg TV.
"This is a market that’s very, very confused. There's just a real lack of conviction in anything people want to buy at this moment in time."
Oil -- which has been under pressure in recent days owing to worries about Chinese demand -- extended Tuesday's bounce after Russia threatened to cut off gas to Bulgaria and Poland, with bets on further gains ahead.
Crude "is supported via the escalation of geopolitical tensions with Russia starting to cut off EU gas supplies. And this is just the beginning, so oil could remain supported as the EU pulls the plug on gas supplies in a domino effect across the continent", said SPI Asset Management's Stephen Innes.
"And, of course, the offset is China lockdowns and everything that entails with the oil market desperately trying to skirt those recession storm clouds building on the horizon." Source: MSN