Asian stocks fell, after yesterday sinking the most in nine months, as U.S. equities extended declines and the slump in crude oil deepened.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) declined 0.3 percent to 134.57 as of 9:03 a.m. in Tokyo, with energy companies dropping the most. The Asian gauge slumped 1.7 percent yesterday and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell for a fifth day, extending the longest losing streak in 13 months. West Texas Intermediate oil sank below $48 a barrel in New York amid speculation data on U.S. supplies today will fuel concern over a global glut.
“With the U.S. markets again under pressure, the lead for Asia looks bleak,” Evan Lucas, a markets strategist in Melbourne at IG Ltd., wrote in an e-mail to clients today. “Until oil finds bottoms, the markets will remain in a downward trajectory.”
Japan’s Topix index dropped 0.5 percent. Short-selling on the Tokyo Stock Exchange reached 37.8 percent of total trading value yesterday, the highest since at least October 2008, when bourse data became available.
South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.6 percent, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.2 percent. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to open.
The Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) gained less than 0.1 percent yesterday to extend a five-year high. China’s equity benchmark index rallied 53 percent in 2014 amid speculation the government will take steps to boost growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
A correction in mainland shares will occur “sooner or later” as investors will look for strong earnings growth to support the rally’s momentum, Ted Pulling, chief investment officer of the Pacific Regional Group at JPMorgan Asset Management, said yesterday.