Asian stock markets lower, as oil prices register biggest drop since October

TOKYO: Shares fell in Asia on Wednesday, tracking modest losses overnight on Wall Street, where the biggest drop in crude oil prices since October weighed on oil producers and other energy stocks. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index slumped 0.9 percent after a lackluster GDP report for July-September.

KEEPING SCORE: The Nikkei 225 was at 22,169.31, as manufacturers’ shares were hurt by a stronger yen. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.7 percent to 28,956.00 and the Shanghai Composite index also lost 0.7 percent to 3,405.18. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to 5,945.50 and the Kospi of South Korea declined 0.3 percent to 2,519.26. Taiwan fell and shares in Southeast Asia were mostly lower.

JAPAN DATA: Japan’s economy expanded at a 1.4 percent annualized rate in July-September in the seventh straight quarter of growth for the world’s third-largest economy. The economy is in its longest period of expansion since 2001. But growth slowed from a 2.6 percent annualized rate of growth in April-June, the Cabinet Office reported Wednesday. Strong exports are helping offset relatively weak household demand. Private consumption fell 0.5 percent in July-September, the first such decline in seven quarters, the report said.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude sank 58 cents to $55.12 per barrel, or 1.04 percent, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.06, or 1.9 percent, on Tuesday to settle at $55.70 per barrel, the biggest single-day decline since October. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 71 cents to $61.50 per barrel. It declined 95 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $62.21 a barrel in London.

WALL STREET: Energy companies led U.S. stocks modestly lower Tuesday, erasing small gains made a day earlier. Investors also are eyeing a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on its version of a major tax bill this week. Expectations that the tax overhaul will sharply lower corporate taxes have helped lift share prices this year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index 0.2 percent to 2,578.87. The Dow Jones industrial average 0.1 percent to 23,409.47 and the Nasdaq composite slid 0.3 percent to 6,737.87. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks also gave up 0.3 percent, to 1,471.26.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.21 yen from 113.43 yen on Tuesday. The euro weakened to $1.1793 from $1.1796.


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