Global stocks slid on Tuesday as investors, particularly those investing in up-and-coming markets, braced for the possible phase out of a U.S. central bank stimulus program that has boosted stock prices worldwide.
Stock benchmarks and currencies in emerging economies such as India and Indonesia have been hammered as funds flowed out of their stock markets in anticipation that the Federal Reserve will start reducing its extraordinary support for the U.S. economy.
Indonesia’s benchmark index, which dived 5 percent on Monday, tacked on another 3.7 percent in losses by late afternoon Tuesday. India’s Sensex fell 0.5 percent after dropping 5.6 percent in the previous two sessions.
The idea behind the Fed’s “quantitative easing” program of government bond purchases and super low interest rates were to spur borrowing and investment through easy access to liquidity. It also sparked big gains in stocks markets.
Traders were awaiting the release of minutes from the Fed’s July policy meeting for hints of when the bank might begin cutting back on its bond-buying. Recent economic data and public statements by Fed policymakers have led to expectations that the Fed might begin winding down its $85 billion a month in purchases from September.
The focus will remain on the Fed on Thursday, when it starts its annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
“The volatility these two events could cause to markets could see bond yields overshooting fair value, and equity markets logging five and six day losing streaks,” said Evan Lucas of IG in Melbourne, Australia.
In early European trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.8 percent to 6,417.45. Germany’s DAX dropped 1.2 percent to 8,268.59 and France’s CAC-40 lost 1.4 percent to 4,027.29.
Wall Street appeared headed for a lower open as well, with Dow Jones industrial futures shedding 0.2 percent to 14,974. S&P 500 futures declined 0.2 percent to 1,641.80.
Losses began in Asia. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index tumbled 2.6 percent to finish at 13,396.38, its lowest close since June 27. Automakers that count on Southeast Asia for business fell, Kyodo News said. Suzuki Motor Corp. dropped 8 percent. Isuzu Motors declined 6.1 percent.
The deficit in Indonesia’s current account a broad measure of its trade and investment transactions with the rest of the world also has been grabbing attention.
The current account deficit widened to 4.4 percent of gross domestic production in the second quarter of 2013, analysts said, as exports slumped and imports rose.
“The current account may remain in a structural deficit and persist for longer, unless commodity prices and demand recover more significantly,” said analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a commentary.
Meanwhile, analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong called both Indonesia and India “vulnerable,” and noted that Moody’s decision to maintain a stable outlook on India’s credit rating “is unlikely to change pressure on its assets.”
Benchmark oil for October delivery was down 95 cents to $105.91 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The September contract fell 36 cents to settle at $107.10 on Monday.
In currencies, the dollar fell to 97.23 yen from 97.62 yen late Monday. The euro rose to $1.3377 from $1.3333.