HONG KONG: Hong Kong stocks plunged Monday on concerns about the potential collapse of troubled property giant China Evergrande after the firm suspended trading in its shares, though most other markets in Asia rose after a strong lead from Wall Street.
The crisis at Evergrande, which is drowning in a sea of debt worth more than $300 billion, has roiled markets in recent weeks on fears that its failure could spill over into the wider Chinese economy and possibly further.
The company gave no reason for its suspension but said in a statement to the Hong Kong exchange that "all structured products relating to the Company will also be halted from trading at the same time".
Hong Kong stocks, already under pressure owing to concerns about China's crackdown on a range of industries including tech firms and casinos, sank more than two percent.
Tokyo fell one percent as traders there await a vote in Japan's parliament to approve Fumio Kishida as the country's next prime minister, with the new leader expected to announce a cabinet.
Taipei also fell, though there were gains in Sydney, Singapore, Wellington, Manila and Jakarta. Shanghai and Seoul were closed for public holidays.
Global markets endured a torrid September owing to growing concerns about inflation, spiking virus infections that are hobbling the economic recovery, and political gridlock in Washington that is pushing the United States towards a financially catastrophic debt default.
Meanwhile, Democrats continue to bicker among themselves over Joe Biden's multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure and social care spending bill, leaving it in limbo.
The Federal Reserve's plan to wind down its ultra-loose monetary policy and indications that it could hike interest rates as soon as next year have added to the gloom.
The release of US jobs data on Friday will be closely watched for a fresh idea about the health of the world's biggest economy, with a strong reading likely putting pressure on the Fed to act sooner than later.
"Markets enter the fourth quarter navigating what is perhaps the most uncertain environment of the year," said Julian Emanuel, a strategist at brokerage BTIG. "The end of 2021 is shaping up to be interesting indeed."
Oil dipped ahead of a meeting between OPEC and its key allies to decide whether to ramp up oil production in a bid to calm overheated global energy prices.
Key figures around 0250 GMT
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.0 percent at 28,497.57 (break)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN DOWN 2.4 percent at 23,998.51
Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday
Dollar/yen: UP at 111.10 yen from 111.02 yen at 2025 GMT on Friday
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1597 from $1.1594
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3540 from $1.3548
Euro/pound: UP at 85.65 pence from 85.57 pence
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.3 percent at $75.67
New York - Dow: UP 1.4 percent at 34,326.46 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 7,027.07 (close)