Asian share markets swept lower Monday after Wall Street suffered its worst starting week in history and doubts over Beijing’s economic competence sent investors into the arms of the safe-haven yen and sovereign bonds. The absence of Tokyo for a holiday only made liquidity even harder to come by, heightening volatility. Currency markets saw some wild swings with the South African rand collapsing to record lows at one point before bouncing. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan sank 2 percent, as did Australia’s main index . E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were down 0.7 percent in a sizable move for Asian hours. Commodities remained on the ropes as Brent crude oil shed another 74 cents to $32.81 a barrel. U.S. crude was quoted 71 cents lighter at $32.45.
China was again the epicentre of unease as the People’s Bank confounded analysts by guiding the yuan sharply stronger, a move that might calm concerns about a competitive devaluation but only added to market confusion as to Beijing’s ultimate intent.