December 18, 2018 / 12:38 AM / 9 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks slide as global growth worries deepen

* Global growth concerns hit Wall Street shares

* S&P500 hits 14-month low ahead of FOMC

* Investors look to Xi Jinping’s speech, China conference

* WTI hits lowest level since Sept 2017

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Asian share markets stumbled on Tuesday as heightened concerns about a slowing global economy sent Wall Street stocks skidding to their lowest levels in more than a year.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.25 percent in early trade while Japan’s Nikkei tumbled 1.5 percent.

On Monday, MSCI’s broadest gauge of the world’s stock markets, ACWI, slumped to its weakest level since May 2017, having declined 16 percent from a top hit on Jan. 29.

In New York, the S&P 500 lost 2.08 percent to hit its lowest since October 2017 as it breached lows reached during a sell-off in February, having wiped out about $3.4 trillion of market value since late September.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.27 percent, with Amazon, one of the best performing shares this year, dropping 4.5 percent.

A profit warning from ASOS, previously high-flying UK online-clothing retailer, shocked investors, sending U.S. consumer discretionary shares down 2.8 percent

“U.S. retailers have been stocking up consumer goods from China before hikes in tariff, piling up inventories. From now their costs are seen rising next year. That may have been kind of known to everyone but it’s becoming reality,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management.

In addition, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index indicated U.S. homebuilder sentiment had fallen to a three-and-a-half-year low. It was the second consecutive month of disappointing reading.

The gloomy data came after weak economic news out of China and Europe late last week.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield dropped to 2.857 percent, edging near a Dec 10. low of 2.825 percent, its lowest level since late August.

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday, which would be its fourth hike this year.

But many investors now expect signs of economic turbulence would prompt the Fed to signal a slow down in the pace of tightening next year.

The Fed has said in September that its policy makers see three more rate hikes in 2019 while money market futures are pricing in less than one such move.

The spectre of a “dovish rate hike” kept the dollar in check.

The euro traded flat at $1.1348, after having gained 0.40 percent on Monday.

The dollar fetched 112.83 yen, little changed in Asia after Monday’s fall of 0.49 percent while the offshore Chinese yuan was little moved at 6.8961 to the dollar.

Investors are looking to a major speech by President Xi Jinping at 1000 a.m. (0200GMT) to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s market reforms.

China is also expected to hold its annual Central Economic Work Conference later this week, where key growth targets and policy goals for 2019 will be discussed.

Oil prices extended losses on signs of oversupply in the United States and as investor sentiment remained under pressure from concern over global economic growth and fuel demand.

U.S. crude fell to as low as $49.01 per barrel on Monday, its lowest level since September last year and last stood at $49.33, down 1.1 percent on the day. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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