Asian stocks fell, following declines in U.S. shares, as oil resumed losses and a stronger yen weighed on Japanese equities.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.6 percent to 119.65 as of 9:00 a.m. in Tokyo, extending its 2016 retreat to 9.4 percent. Materials shares led losses on the benchmark gauge on Wednesday. Japan’s Topix index fell 1.4 percent after the yen gained 0.7 percent against the dollar on Tuesday. Crude slid 4.6 percent in New York last session as Iran’s oil minister called a plan by Saudi Arabia and Russia to lock production at January levels “ridiculous.”
Worries this year have centered on the slowdown in China’s economy, tumbling oil prices and the pace of U.S. interest-rate increases. Private gauges of Chinese manufacturing and services fell to new lows in February and a reading of business confidence slipped, signaling the nation’s growth slowdown hasn’t bottomed out yet.
South Korea’s Kospi index retreated 0.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 1.2 percent as BHP Billiton Ltd. dropped 5.6 percent, with the miner heading for its biggest decline since November. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.4 percent.
Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index added 0.1 percent in most recent trading, while contracts on the FTSE China A50 Index slipped 0.2 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index fell the most in three weeks on Tuesday.