HONG KONG/TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian stocks fell to six-week lows on Monday and emerging market currencies wilted as investors sought the safety of the greenback in the wake of Friday’s attacks in Paris and downbeat economic data.
Financial spreadbetters expect Britain’s FTSE 100 to open 0.70 percent lower, Germany’s DAX to open around 1.3 percent, and France’s CAC 40 to open 2.2-2.3 percent down.
French financial markets will be open as usual on Monday, with extra security measures taken for staff, stock and derivatives exchange Euronext said.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell nearly 1.5 percent - its biggest daily fall since Sept. 29. It racked up a 3 percent loss last week.
Leading the losers were the Nikkei stock index which tumbled nearly 1.1 percent, nearly wiping out last week’s 1.7 percent gain as latest economic data undershot expectations.
Data released before the Tokyo market opened showed that Japan’s economy slipped back into recession in the July to September quarter, contracting at a 0.8 percent annualised rate, compared with the median estimate for a 0.2 percent contraction.
The widely tracked CBOE volatility index or “fear gauge” was at its highest level since Oct. 2.
“Risk aversion is on the rise and we are seeing broad-based U.S. dollar strength across the board and this may continue until the year end as recent economic data has also disappointed,” said Mitul Kotecha, head of Asian FX and rates strategy at Barclays in Singapore.
Recent economic data from China, where stock markets have recovered some of their poise after a summer collapse, has disappointed global investors.
Credit activity in China’s financial system dropped to its lowest level in 15 months in October, while data last week showed steel consumption, a key measure of economic activity, slowed further.
Stock futures were pointing to another weak start on Wall Street after main indexes shed about 1 percent in light volume in late trade on Friday. News of the attacks by gunmen and bombers that killed 132 people in the French capital came after U.S. markets closed.
Losses for equity punters translated into gains for bond investors.
Yields on 2-year U.S. Treasury debt, the part of the yield curve most sensitive to rapid changes in investor positioning, edged lower to 0.83 percent from 0.86 percent on Thursday, retracing part of its impressive rise from late October.
In currency markets, the euro dropped about 0.5 percent to $1.07205, after logging a flat performance last week. It was down 0.5 percent against the yen at 131.24 yen.
Losses were particularly acute for Asian currencies with the Korean won and the Indonesian rupiah among the leaders.
“The spate of terrorist attacks added to USD strength,” said Andy Ji, Asian currency strategist for Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Singapore, expecting emerging Asian currencies to stay weaker though the U.S. Federal Reserve may not consider the attacks in Paris at its policy meeting in December as material.
The dollar slipped about 0.1 percent against the safe-haven yen to 122.43, while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was broadly flat at 99.082.
In sign of some stability for the euro zone, Greece and its euro zone creditors reached an agreement on many issues in the reform program that Athens is implementing in return for loans, the head of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Sunday.
Markets in the Middle East, which trade on Sunday, were hit hard, though part of that decline was due to last week’s drop in oil prices.
Crude oil futures registered their biggest weekly loss in eight months, dropping 8 percent on the week for their worst performance since March, as growing inventories fed into fears of oversupply.
Futures retraced some of the lost ground in early Asian trade. Brent was up 1 percent at $44.92 a barrel after shedding 1 percent on Friday, while U.S. crude was up about 0.54 percent at $40.96 a barrel after giving up 2 percent.
Spot gold rose 1 percent to $1,094 an ounce, moving away from its low on Thursday of $1,074.26, which was its deepest nadir since February 2010.
Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee nd Lisa Twaronite; Additional reporting by Jongwoo Cheon in Singapore; Editing by Eric Meijer