Asian Stock Markets Tumble in Wake of SVB Collapse

A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Ba
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

The aftershocks of Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) multibillion-dollar collapse reached Asia on Tuesday, as stock indexes in Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong tumbled by more than two percent.

Unsurprisingly, bank stocks were hit especially hard amid fears of a banking “contagion” spreading from SVB to the rest of the world.

“Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index closed down 2.2% with shares of Softbank falling 4.1%, Mizuho Financial Group dropping 7.1% and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group sinking 9.8%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed down 2.4% Tuesday,” Voice of America News (VOA) reported on Tuesday.

CNN surveyed the carnage among banks in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Seoul:

In Hong Kong, shares in Bank of China (Hong Kong) and Hang Seng Bank fell 3.7% and 1.3% respectively. Pan-Asian insurer AIA Group traded down 4.7%.

In Tokyo, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan’s biggest bank, lost 8.4%. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group both dropped more than 7%.

In Seoul, KB Financial Group and Shinhan Financial Group fell 3.6% and 2.5% respectively.

CNBC noted on Tuesday that Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index had a rough day as well, closing down 1.41 percent.

VOA suggested Asian markets do not seem entirely reassured by the Biden administration’s promises that the damage from SVB’s implosion will be fully contained and its depositors made whole, without a taxpayer bailout. It will indeed be a gigantic taxpayer bailout, but the money will be collected from American workers by their banks, not the IRS.

The possibility that more banks may yet come tumbling down in the aftershock from SVB is still causing jitters in both domestic and foreign markets, and they are unlikely to breathe a sigh of relief until a few weeks have passed.

The Asian dip might have been driven by continuing anxiety in the American markets, where losses have been reported every day since the SVB story broke. Adding to the market’s woes, the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) released on Tuesday showed inflation rising again in February, exacerbating the very conditions that triggered SVB’s collapse.

On the bright side, U.S. bank stocks appeared to be rallying on Tuesday afternoon, which might restore some confidence to the Asian market as well. 

“Investors fear other financial institutions are sitting on significant unrealized losses on their balance sheets because of markedly higher interest rates,” credit ratings agency DBRS Morningstar observed on Monday. 

Getting through the rest of this week without any more mushroom clouds rising over American financial institutions would be very helpful.

“If we do not see any high-profile failures in the near future, then the fears would subside,” predicted Cresset Capital chief investment officer Jack Ablin.

CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng told CNBC on Monday that Asian markets are especially nervous because powerhouses China and Japan have avoided raising interest rates, as most of the rest of the world has done. The Bank of Japan, in fact, is still holding interest rates at negative 0.1 percent.

“Credit risks might be the major issue that Asian banks face at the back of a gloomy economic outlook and dampened consumer demands,” Teng warned.

Other analysts said Asian banks tend to invest most of their deposits in loans, rather than securities, so the impact of SVB’s detonation will be muted.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.