Stock markets kept tumbling in Asia deep into the red, sounding alarms around the world and sending investors scurrying towards safe havens like precious metals, the yen, and top-rated government bonds. U.S. 10-year treasury papers rose to their highest in a year, in a way that reminded some of the conditions at the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008.
Gold jumped to a sweet nine-month peak at $1,1210 an ounce, up 12 dollars on the day, or more than one percent, and smashing through a critical technical resistance at $1,200. Silver prices were buoyed as well but not as much, climbing five cents, or a third of a percentage point to $15.33 an ounce.
From Asia, Japan's Nikkei kept on its miserable path downwards, plumbing a nearly 16-month low at 15,713, down 2.40% on the day, and about 7% for the week. Hong Kong's stocks cratered 4.50% to their lowest levels since mid 2012, after closing for several days for the lunar year holiday. Mainland China markets are still closed however for the remainder of the week.
South Korea's KOSPI index plummeted three percent to a three-week trough, while India's Nifty stumbled more than one percent, touching its lowest since May, 2014. Bucking the downward trend, Australia' S&P/ASX 200 index drove up nearly one percent on short-covering and stimulus hopes to 4,821.
Safe-haven yen jumped to a fresh 15-month high against the dollar at 112.75, up 0.60% on the day, while advancing to a three-week high versus the euro at 127.27, with a 0.56% profit. Sterling skidded to its weakest since November, 2013 against the Japanese currency at 163.74.
Oil prices kept sliding on fears over weak global demand, with the U.S. West Texas Intermediary (WTI) crude futures shedding half a dollar, or 1.71% to $26.98 a barrel, while Brent crude futures dropped 20 cents, or 0.62% to trade at $30.65 a barrel.
Investors wait for a bunch of U.S. data today, with unemployment claims expected at 287,000 for last week, barely higher than the previous reading's 285K, but still lower than the level of 300,000, which is considered positive for the economy and the currency.
Weekly data on natural gas storage are forecast to show a draw of 82B cubic feet, lower than the previous week's 152B draw, but still a positive streak that shows consistent demand for that important source of energy.