HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets sank again Thursday after Wall Street was hit by a further fall in oil prices, while the dollar edged up after tumbling against the yen.
Analysts said traders were taking their cash off the table before the end of the year after enjoying a surge over the past few weeks that has been supported by strong US data, Japanese easing measures and hopes for stimulus in China.
Tokyo fell 0.89 per cent, or 155.18 points, to 17,257.40 following a three per cent decline over the previous two sessions and Sydney gave up 0.53 per cent, or 28.0 points, to close at 5,231.0 while Seoul shed 1.49 per cent, or 28.97 points, to close at 1,916.59.
Shanghai finished 0.49 per cent lower, losing 14.26 points to 2,925.74 while in late trade Hong Kong shed 0.72 per cent.
In New York, the Dow and S&P 500, which last week ended at record highs, retreated following a pullback in petroleum plays that came after OPEC lowered its demand forecast for 2015 and the US revealed its stockpiles surged.
The Dow fell 1.51 perc ent, the S&P 500 sank 1.64 percent and the Nasdaq slipped 1.73 percent.
However, oil prices edged up slightly in Asia after tumbling to new five-year lows Wednesday.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery rose 13 cents to $61.07 while Brent crude was up 26 cents at $64.30 in afternoon trade.
WTI dropped $2.88 in New York, while Brent lost $2.60 in London.
Crude has plunged around 40 per cent since June on the back of an oversupply in global markets, which was exacerbated by OPEC’s output decision last month.
On foreign exchange markets, the dollar ticked up to 118.07 yen in afternoon trade after sinking to as low as 117.44 yen at one point as traders, spooked by the equities selling, looked for safer investments. The yen is considered a haven in times of turmoil.
The greenback is still well down from the seven-year-high of 121.84 yen seen Monday.
“Large overseas hedge funds and other hedged investors are making their year-end position adjustments, booking profits after going long on the dollar and Nikkei futures and shorting the yen,” Eiji Kinouchi, chief technical strategist at Daiwa Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
The euro slipped to 146.43 at one point early Thursday before bouncing back to 147.19 yen. It sat at 146.68 in US trade. The single currency was also at $1.2470 against $1.2446 in New York.
In Hong Kong, dealers are keeping an eye on the streets as police and bailiffs clear the main pro-democracy site after more than two months of occupation.
Gold was at $1,224.35 an ounce compared with $1,204.67 late Tuesday.
In other markets, Taipei lost 0.21 per cent, or 19.09 points, to end at 9,013.07.
Acer fell 2.14 percent to Tw$21.5 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co shed 1.5 per cent to Tw$134.5.
Wellington fell 0.39 per cent, or 21.51 points, to 5,502.07. Fletcher Building was off 1.10 per cent at NZ$8.06 and Genesis Energy slipped 0.96 per cent to NZ$2.07.
Manila sank 1.44 per cent, or 102.98 points, to 7.072.10. Philippine Long Distance Telephone was down 0.57 per cent at 2,798 pesos, Bloombery Resorts fell 9.79 per cent to 11.06 pesos and Universal Robina lost 1.84 per cent to 3.50 pesos.