HONG KONG (AFP) -Asian stock markets fell across the board Thursday, largely on the back of declines in the US triggered by concerns over a strengthening dollar and falling oil prices.
The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, failed to buoy markets when it repeated its pledge to remain “patient” regarding the United States’ first interest rate increase since 2006, signalling a June move remains in play.
Tokyo shares dropped 1.06 per cent, or 189.51 points, to close at 17,606.22. Seoul declined 0.54 per cent, or 10.56 points, to finish at 1,951.02.
Hong Kong lost 1.05 per cent and Shanghai fell 1.11 per cent in afternoon trading.
Sydney bucked the trend, rising 0.30 per cent, or 16.72 points, to close at 5,569.50.
Oil prices falling below $45 a barrel – close to their lowest level in six years – renewed concern of inflation slowing as well as declining global demand. That has spooked investors who are already nervous about the impact of political uncertainty in Greece on the 19-member euro area.
As a result, all three benchmark US indices fell. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1.13 per cent, the broad-based S&P 500 slumped 1.35 per cent, and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.93 per cent.
“The risks surrounding international developments… are things like a global economic slowdown or lower inflation as represented by cheaper oil, and geopolitical risks triggered by the fall in oil prices,” Mistushige Akino of Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co told Bloomberg News.
Oil prices were largely flat in Asian trading and any gains were capped amid fresh concern over the growing global supply glut as US crude reserves soared to a record high, analysts said.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for March delivery dropped two cents to $44.43, after suffering a sharp decline in New York, while Brent crude for March gained seven cents to $48.54.
Samsung Electronics posted its first drop in annual net profit in three years Thursday and saw resurgent arch-rival Apple barge in on its pole position as the world’s top smartphone maker.
The South Korean firm, whose key mobile phone operations have struggled in the face of intense competition from cut-price Chinese rivals, also warned that it expected 2015’s “business environment… to be as challenging as 2014.”
Samsung shares fell 18,000 won, or 1.31 per cent, to 1,360,000 by the close of trading in Seoul.
The dollar, meanwhile, was at $1.1283 against the euro from $1.1284 in US trading. It was also at 117.70 yen, from 117.53 yen.
The euro was worth 132.84 yen from 132.62 yen. Gold fetched $1,282.46 an ounce, against $1,287.20 late Wednesday.