U.S. stock indices dropped on Wednesday amid plunging oil prices and geopolitical tensions.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 251.8 points, or 1.47%, to 16,906. The S&P 500 lost 26.39 points, or 1.31%, to 1,990 (all of its 10 sectors closed lower). The Nasdaq Composite declined 55.67 points, or 1.14%, to 4,835.
The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that the trade deficit declined substantially in November as both imports and exports fell. The deficit contracted by 5% to $42.37 billion compared to October. Exports and imports fell by 0.9% and 1.7% respectively.
Minutes of the Federal Reserve's December meeting showed yesterday that the decision to raise interest rates was made by an unanimous vote, but some policy makers expressed concerns over low inflation and negative influence from slow growth in emerging economies.
This morning in Asia Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 2.44%, or 511.40, to 20,469.41. China Shanghai Composite Index plunged 7.32%, or 245.95, to 3,115.89. The Nikkei fell 2.16%, or 392.85, to 17,798.47.
Asian stock indices fell. Japanese stocks dropped amid substantial declines in Chinese markets and lack of positive dynamics in U.S. stock indices. A stronger yen also weighed on stocks.
Trading in Chinese markets was stopped within less than half an hour after the open time amid sharp declines in stock prices. Investors panicked after the central bank of China lowered the exchange rate of the national currency to 6.5646 yuan per dollar (the minimum level since August 2015).