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Global stocks crumble as international growth and US earnings fears spook markets

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Asian shares dived on Thursday as hundreds of billions of dollars hemorrhaged from global markets after a rout in tech stocks inflicted the largest daily decline on Wall Street since 2011, wiping out all its gains for the year.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS skidded about 2 percent. Japan’s Nikkei .N225 tumbled 3.5 percent to a six-month trough while Australian shares hit a more than one-year low.

Tokyo’s Topix index .TOPX tumbled 3 percent, evaporating more than $155 billion in market value. Chinese shares opened in the red too with the blue-chip SSE Composite index .SSEC plummeting 2.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index .HSI sank 2.2 percent.

The dive in formerly high-flying U.S. tech stocks sent investors scampering to the safety of sovereign bonds, with yields in 10-year Treasuries US10YT=RR falling the most since May to 3.11 percent.

“Weak U.S. housing data, mixed corporate earnings results, trade war fears and concerns regarding a slowing global economy all contributed to the sell off,” Sydney-based Rivkin Securities said in a note to clients.

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“Investor sentiment remains cautious as we anticipate the reports of over 100 S&P 500 companies including Amazon (AMZN.O), Alphabet (GOOGL.O) and Comcast (CMCSA.O).”

Weak readings on manufacturing in Europe added to angst over world growth, as did a surprise slump in U.S. home sales, which suggested rising mortgage rates were sapping demand for housing.

Adding to the air of tension, police intercepted suspected bombs mailed to former U.S. President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other high-profile Democrats, as well as to CNN, in what New York officials branded an act of terrorism.

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The growing international pressure on Saudi Arabia over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi also weighed on investor sentiment.

On Wall Street, disappointing forecasts from chipmakers hammered the tech sector. They followed weaker-than-expected forecasts on Tuesday from industrial giants Caterpillar (CAT.N) and 3M (MMM.N).

The Nasdaq .IXIC closed down 12.4 percent from its Aug. 29 record closing high, falling 4.4 percent for the day in its biggest one-day percentage decline since Aug. 18, 2011.

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In dollar terms, the Nasdaq vaporized $524 billion in market capitalization overnight.

The Dow <.DJI > fell 2.41 percent and the S&P 500 .SPX lost 3.09 percent.

According to data analyzed by Reuters, the proportion of stocks, regions and sectors that are technically in a bear market has shot up since the start of January, prompting some analysts to conclude the bull run may already be over.

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Citi has lowered its global growth forecast for both 2019 and 2020 by 0.1 percentage point each to 3.2 percent and 3 percent, respectively, it said in a note Thursday, citing policy tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

“Over the next year, bouts of financial market turbulence are likely to worsen,” Citi economist Catherine Mann said, “as gaps between market expectations of policy rate hikes and the median dot plot close.”

In foreign exchange markets, client participation on both spot and options was fairly light, Citi noted in a separate note.

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Funds flowed to the U.S. dollar and Treasuries and out of the euro and the British pound.

The euro shed 0.7 percent to $1.1397 EUR= and breached a major chart bulwark at $1.1430. It was last up 0.1 percent at $1.1407.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar eased from near a nine-week peak to 96.267 .DXY. [USD/]

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Sterling hit a seven-week trough $1.2865 GBP=, having dropped 0.8 percent overnight. It was last a shade higher at $1.2892.

The yen got the usual safe-haven bid, with the euro skidding to a two-month low at 127.68 yen EURJPY=. Even the high-flying dollar eased to 112 yen JPY=.

Oil prices slipped amid concerns over global growth.

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Brent crude LCOc1 fell 69 cents to $75.48 a barrel, while U.S. crude dropped 54 cents to $66.28 CLc1. [O/R]

Spot gold XAU= was a tad firmer at $1,236.52 an ounce.

Additional reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam


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George Conway declares ‘Trump is a racist president’ in brutal Washington Post column

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Prominent Republican attorney George Conway blasted President Donald Trump in an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Monday evening.

Conway explained how he avoided thinking of Trump as a racist, despite the president's actions.

"No, I thought, President Trump was boorish, dim-witted, inarticulate, incoherent, narcissistic and insensitive. He’s a pathetic bully but an equal-opportunity bully — in his uniquely crass and crude manner, he’ll attack anyone he thinks is critical of him. No matter how much I found him ultimately unfit, I gave still him the benefit of the doubt about being a racist. No matter how much I came to dislike him, I didn’t want to think that the president of the United States is a racial bigot," he explained.

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Professor reminds Trump of his two immigrant wives: ‘Four of his five children are children of immigrants’

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As President Donald Trump complains about immigrants, he should remember his own family, Fordham Professor Christina Greer explained on MSNBC on Monday.

"Mind you, he's a child of immigrants and twice married to two immigrants, right? Four of his five children are children of immigrants, but he has to use this rhetoric to make sure that he can frame all of his failures in a way that it’s never him and it’s always someone else who is taking away from the good, 'white Americans' who deserve to be here," Greer explained.

In 1977, Trump became the second husband of Ivana Zelní?ková -- who was born in Czechoslovakia. She is the mother of Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump.

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Racism drives Trump ‘like rocket fuel’ — but even for him, this is ‘shocking and disgraceful’: WaPo journalist

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On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," Washington Post reporter David Swerdlick told anchor Wolf Blitzer that there's nothing truly new about President Donald Trump's racist social media assaults on Democratic congresswomen of color — but that there is something uniquely horrible about the latest episode.

"People are suggesting what the president has said in the past day or two represents a new low," said Blitzer. "But when you look at the president's history ... the president claiming Barack Obama wasn't born here in the United States, his comments about Charlottesville. This clearly isn't a one-off."

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