Live News: Crypto Exchange Kraken Settles With US Over Alleged Sanctions Violations

Global stocks fell sharply on Monday after protests in China over the government’s tough Covid-19 policies sparked investor concern over the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 closed down 1.5%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 1.6%. The losses were the largest since Nov. 9, the first session after the U.S. midterm elections, and led to solid gains for stocks this month.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index fell 4.5% before falling 1.6%. The decline in China’s CSI 300 index of stocks listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen hit 2.8% before being reduced to just over 1%.

Protests erupted in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities over the weekend against government-induced pandemic restrictions. Discontent has intensified since a fire in the city of Urumqi killed 10 people last week, prompting vigils across China as authorities denied claims that coronavirus restrictions had hampered rescue efforts and prevented residents from escaping the fire.

The U.S. dollar index traded 0.7% higher against a basket of six international peers, benefiting in part from “increasing China-related risks”, said Lee Hardman, an analyst for currencies at MUFG.

Growing unrest in China has hit investors with a “reality check”, said Emmanuel Cau, head of European equity strategy at Barclays.

“China’s reopening hope was part of the year-end bullish narrative,” Cau added. “Investors are now realizing that whichever direction the zero-Covid journey takes, it will not be a smooth process.”

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