Hong Kong (CNN Business)Stock markets have made a bad start to 2019 following a nightmarish December.
On Wednesday key stock indexes in Asia were trading in the red as investors grappled with issues including concerns over global growth and the trade war between China and the United States.Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 2.4%, China’s Shanghai Composite 1% and Australia’s ASX 1.6%. Japan’s markets remain closed for a public holiday.The day marked the first trading session of the new year following a bad 2018 for many investors. Last year was the worst for US stocks since 2008. December was a particularly dreadful month, with the Dow plunging 8.7%. US stock market futures indicated the Dow would open almost 200 points lower on Wednesday. Read MoreChinese economy under pressureAmong the big concerns for investors right now is China’s faltering economic growth amid ongoing trade tensions with the United States. Chinese stocks slumped by almost 25% last year, making it the world’s worst-performing major market. There were new signs of weakness in the world’s second-biggest economy on Wednesday. Think Wall Street's had a bad year? China's was even worseThe latest purchasing managers index survey, conducted by media group Caixin and research firm Markit, fell to 49.7 in December from 50.2 in November. It is this second time this week that data has indicated China’s huge manufacturing sector is now contracting. “It is looking increasingly likely that the Chinese economy may come under greater downward pressure,” said Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at research firm CEBM Group, in a statement accompanying the Caixin PMI release. Analysts said that many investors were now betting on the prospect of a significant global economic slowdown within the next 18 months. Other concerns for investors going into the new year include rising US interest rates and uncertainty surrounding the United Kingdom’s scheduled exit from the European Union, said Kyle Rodda, a Melbourne-based analyst at broker IG Group. “Any extra drag on a global economy already feeling the pinch… is highly unwelcomed,” he said.