The first week of May draws to a close with investors exhibiting a particularly dismal sentiment, causing major indices to suffer pronounced downturns.
The fall of oil prices to five-month lows may have weighed heavily on investor sentiments, as Opec's strategy of cutting down on the supply glut may have yielded few tangible results. At present, Brent crude has slipped by 2.67% to $47.02 per barrel.
Commodities had faced an overall steep decline, with major commodity indices such as the S&P GCSI (-2.90%) and the UBS Bloomberg CMCI (-1.95%) experiencing major downswings.
Moreover, French citizens will be casting their ballots for their new president on Sunday (May 7). The last debate between candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen took a particularly nasty turn on Wednesday, and investors may have been left more anxious as the divisiveness within the French populace was made very clear.
However, positive trends may emerge next week when the Tokyo Stock Exchange resumes its operations. Reuters, on Friday, reported on the Japanese Finance Ministry announcement of launching bilateral foreign exchange swap schemes of up to $40bn with Southeast Asian nations. Under this scheme, Tokyo would provide yen to those countries within the region facing a financial crisis.
Moreover, the finance heads of Japan, China, and South Korea affirmed their pledge to resist all forms of protectionism during a trilateral meeting on Friday. The gesture stands in sharp contrast to a recent G20 summit where a similar pledge was removed from the communiqué, possibly reflecting the influence of US President Donald Trump.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange remained closed for the Golden Week holiday.
The following index quotes were logged on 6:09am BST:
Hong Kong: Hang Seng- Down by 1.16% to 24,396.85
A Nikkei survey revealed that business conditions in Hong Kong expanded in April, with the Purchasing Managers' Index score (PMI) increasing to 51.1 from 49.9 in March. The expansion and contraction benchmark lies at 50, with a figure above the benchmark indicating an expansion.
Firms in the commodities sector, such as China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd (-4.22%), PetroChina Co Ltd (-3.17%), and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (-2.75%) emerged as the index's weakest performers.
China: Shanghai Composite- Down by 0.68% to 3,106.098
Australia: S&P/ASX- Down by 0.80% to 5,829.301
Despite fears of a property bubble in the nation, the Australian Industry Group revealed on Friday that the Performance Construction Index grew to 51.9 in April from 51.2 in March.
Singapore: Straits Times Index- Down by 0.31% to 3,218.59
India: Sensex- Down by 0.46% to 29,987.01