Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) led losses in Asia Pacific, tumbling nearly 2.2% on Thursday. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) and Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) each fell roughly 2.1%, while South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI) and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.3% and 0.8%, respectively.
European stocks fell in early trading. Germany’s DAX (DAX) dropped 0.5%, while France’s CAC 40 (CAC40) fell 0.3%. The FTSE 100 (UKX) in London lost 0.8%.
The declines follow a downturn Wednesday on Wall Street, where all three major indexes finished lower. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (COMP) was the worst performer, closing down 2.7%.
US stock futures continued to slip Thursday. Dow (INDU) futures were last down 34 points, or 0.1%, while S&P 500 (SPX) futures slumped 0.2%. Nasdaq futures were slightly negative.
Investors are increasingly concerned that a wave of spending when the US economy reopens could cause prices to spike, spoiling the financial market party that’s been raging since last March.
Government bond yields — which move opposite prices — have jumped in recent weeks, signaling rising optimism about the economic recovery. The 10-year US Treasury bond yield earlier hit 1.48%, though it has since pulled back a bit to about 1.45%.
Investors are also awaiting a speech Thursday from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who is expected to appear at a Wall Street Journal conference.
“Markets will be looking for signals from Mr. Powell regarding his comfort with rising bond yields, inflation, and any signs of potential changes in Fed guidance,” wrote Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at Oanda, in a research note. “He will have to choose his words very carefully.”
— Julia Horowitz and Anneken Tappe contributed to this report.