Asian stock markets slip as traders eye busy week
Hong Kong: Asian markets sank again on Monday after losses on Wall Street and in Europe, with oil prices down and the yen recovering some of the losses suffered at the end of last week.
Dealers moved cautiously at the start of a busy week that includes policy meetings at the US Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan as well as earnings reports from big-name firms including Sony and Nintendo.
The losses follow a sell-off Friday that was fuelled by profit-taking from a recent rally.
Mitsubishi Motors dived almost five per cent to extend its losses to a fourth session, having crashed more than 40 per cent between Wednesday and Friday after admitting cheating on fuel-efficiency tests.
On Friday the engine rigging scandal that has already battered German giant Volkswagen spread to other car titans as Berlin said a probe found 16 major brands had shown irregularities.
Among the firms dragged into the crisis are Japan’s Nissan, France’s Renault and Italy’s Fiat. Nissan ended down 0.6 per cent in Tokyo.
Japan’s Nikkei index closed 0.8 per cent lower, with a recovery in the yen weighing on exporters.
The Japanese unit sank against the dollar on Friday on a report that the country’s central bank was considering helping financial companies by offering them negative rates on some loans.
The dollar was at 111.25 yen, having risen to 111.80 yen on Friday in New York from 109.31 yen earlier in the day.
The yen’s move “on Friday was an over-reaction to speculation that the BoJ might be willing to lend to commercial banks with negative interest rates”, Gareth Berry, a foreign-exchange and rates strategist at Macquarie Bank in Singapore, told Bloomberg News.
Sony slumped six per cent after warning Friday it was delaying its profit forecast for the current fiscal year as it assesses the impact of this month’s double earthquakes in southern Japan.
Hong Kong ended 0.8 per cent lower and Shanghai closed down 0.4 per cent while Seoul, Singapore and Manila were also in negative territory.
In early European trade London and Frankfurt were each up 0.1 per cent but Paris slid 0.2 per cent
Sydney and Wellington were closed for the ANZAC Day public holiday.
Oil prices slipped as persistent worries over a global supply glut weigh against hopes China’s growth slowdown may be ending and talk that major producers will work towards agreeing output limits.
Adding to the selling pressure was a report that Saudi Arabia could maintain its total production capacity with the expansion of an oilfield, fuelling fresh concerns about the global supply glut.
Attention this week will be on the BoJ and Fed policy meetings, with expectations the Japanese will unveil fresh stimulus measures following the quakes that threaten an already weak economy.
US officials are also due to release first-quarter growth figures, which will provide an idea about the state of the world’s number one economy. — AFP