World Economy

Falling Crude Prices Rattle Asian Markets

Falling Crude Prices Rattle Asian MarketsFalling Crude Prices Rattle Asian Markets

A failed oil deal out of Doha sent stock markets in Asia down Monday, with Japan suffering the steepest losses as it also faced fallout from earthquakes and a renewed surge of its currency.

Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average tumbled 3.4%—its worst daily percentage loss since April 1. The Nikkei is down 14.5% for the year, making it Asia’s worst-performing major stock benchmark so far in 2016.

Insurers and auto makers were among the worst performers in Japan. Casualty insurer MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc. ended down 7.3%, and Toyota Motor Corp. finished down 4.8%.

The yen didn’t help Japan’s day. The currency, nearing a fresh 18-month high, touched as strong as 107.81 yen to one US dollar. A stronger currency hurts companies at home by making their exports less competitive and devaluing their repatriated earnings, the Financial Times reported.

Elsewhere, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.4% and the Hang Seng Index fell 1.2%. South Korea’s Kospi and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 were each off 0.3% and 0.4% respectively.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s failed oil deal among major petroleum producers sent oil prices sharply lower at the start of Asian trading. Brent crude oil then eased off its lows of the session, although prices were still down 4.8% at $41.06 a barrel by the afternoon in Asia.

Energy stocks in Australia bore the brunt of oil’s renewed bout of volatility.

The sector fell almost 3% on the S&P/ASX 200, while commodity producers BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd.  ended off 3% and 1.6% respectively.

In Hong Kong, the energy sector was down 2.1% and shares of state-owned oil producer PetroChina Co. Ltd. lost 1.7%.