Asian Stocks Skid as Oil Woes Sap Sentiment

TOKYO (Reuters) —
Men are reflected in a screen displaying market indices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Asian stocks stumbled on Wednesday after weaker crude oil prices took a toll on Wall Street, while the euro kept big gains after enjoying a boost from robust German economic growth.

Spreadbetters tipped opening losses for Britain’s FTSE of 0.1 percent, a 0.25 percent decline for Germany’s DAX, and France’s CAC was seen down 0.15 percent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.6 percent.

China’s Shanghai index was down 0.55 percent, Australian stocks dropped 0.6 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI shed 0.4 percent. Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.5 percent.

“The decline by U.S. equities led by energy shares is having a knock-on effect, dampening sentiment in sectors related to energy and industry,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo.

“Broadly speaking equities had enjoyed an almost uninterrupted run for the past few months, so we are seeing a bit of a correction finally emerging.”

Lifted by steady economic growth, supportive monetary policies and solid corporate earnings, global equities have rallied hard, with those in the United States, Germany and South Korea scaling record heights recently, while Japan’s Nikkei climbed a 26-year peak.

BofA Merrill Lynch’s November fund manager survey found that a record high 16 percent of respondents are taking above-normal levels of risk in their investment.

All three major U.S. stock indexes dipped on Tuesday as an extended drop in crude oil prices hit energy shares and as General Electric plunged for a second straight day.

The euro stood little changed at $1.1787 after rising 1.1 percent overnight to a 2-½-week high of $1.1805 as data showed Germany’s economy shifted into a higher gear in the third quarter.

Pressured by the euro’s surge, the dollar index against a basket of six major currencies lost about 0.7 percent overnight. It last stood flat at 93.870.

The greenback was 0.2 percent lower at 113.230 yen after pulling back from a high of 113.910 the previous day.

The yen as well as Japan’s equity and bond markets showed little reaction to Wednesday’s GDP data. Japan’s economy grew for the seventh straight quarter during the July-September period, although this was tempered somewhat as private consumption declined for the first time since the last quarter of 2015.

The immediate focus for the dollar, and a potential catalyst, was data on U.S. consumer prices due later in the global day.

Financial markets, which are betting the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates in December, will be looking for clues to gauge how many more rate increases could be in store next year.

Crude oil prices stretched losses, weighed by forecasts for rising U.S. crude output and a gloomier outlook for global demand growth in a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

U.S. crude futures were down 1.1 percent at $55.07 per barrel and on track for their fourth day of losses. Brent lost 1.3 percent to $61.42 per barrel.

With oil prices having slid steadily from 28-month highs scaled last week, commodity currencies came under pressure.

The Canadian dollar stood at C$1.2740 per dollar after weakening to a one-week low of C$1.2773 overnight.

The Australian dollar faced additional headwinds after Wednesday’s data showed the country’s wages did not rise as much as expected last quarter.

The Aussie fell about 0.7 percent to a four-month trough of $0.7576.

Shanghai nickel and zinc tumbled alongside steel, extending losses from the previous session, with the commodities still reeling after the previous day’s indicators pointed to slowing industrial production growth in China.

On Tuesday, a batch of data from China – Australia’s biggest export market – showed the economy cooled further last month, with industrial output, fixed asset investment and retail sales missing expectations.

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