Shares steady

    1104

    SYDNEY- Asian shares were steady on Monday as investors grappled with sky-high valuations against the backdrop of a global economy in the grip of a deep coronavirus-induced recession while oil prices dropped sharply.

    Chinese stocks started lower while shares of Hong Kong-listed Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) plunged to the lowest since June 16 on fears the firm could be added to a US trade blacklist.

    China’s blue-chip index slipped 0.5 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng eased 0.2 percent.

    Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.4 percent with SoftBank coming under heavy selling following media reports it has spent at least $4 billion buying call options on listed US technology stocks.

    Australian shares, which had opened in the red, reversed losses to edge up 0.1 percent led by miners, while South Korea added 0.4 percent.

    That left MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan barely changed after two straight days of losses toppled it from a 2-1/2-year peak last week.

    World shares hit a record high last week as central bank stimulus drove asset valuations to heady levels. The rally has since cooled as tech stocks sold off while worries over patchy economic recovery dogged investors.

    The immediate focus on the day will be on China’s exports and imports data for August, due later in the morning.

    China’s exports are expected to have posted a second month of solid gains in August as more of its trading partners relaxed coronavirus lockdowns and reopened their economies, a Reuters poll showed.

    US stock futures opened in the red, with E-minis for the S&P 500 down 0.3 percent and Nasdaq futures sliding 1.1 percent. US markets will be closed on Monday for Labor Day.

    Nasdaq futures were dragged lower by the exclusion of Tesla from a group of companies that were being added to the S&P 500.