Wellington: Asian stocks dropped for the first time in three days, led by BHP Billiton Ltd. as oil prices extended declines after Iran said it will release 15 British sailors and marines.
“The tension between Iran and the UK drove crude prices higher and people are speculating further gains in oil will be difficult after this geopolitical risk was removed,” said Yoshinori Nagano, who helps oversee about $70 billion at Daiwa Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.
Australia’s Westfield Group and Foster’s Group Ltd. fell after the country’s currency climbed to a decade-high against the dollar, reducing the value of US sales. Rinker Group Ltd. rose after a hostile takeover bid from Cemex SA won US regulatory approval.
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index declined 0.4% to 146.30 at 12:24 p.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.4%, as did Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index, which fell from an all-time high.
All markets open for trading fell, except in China and Singapore, which both climbed to records. Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan are shut for holidays, while Australia closes at 1 p.m. Tokyo time.
Toshiba Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. paced gains among Asian computer-related shares after a report from Citigroup Investment Research said Microsoft Corp.’s earnings increased last quarter. The report helped US technology stocks pace an advance in the broader market.
Crude oil in New York on 4 April settled 0.4% lower at $64.38 a barrel, after sliding as much as 1.7%. It recently traded at $64.39, a 5.4% decline from $68.09 it reached on 27 March, the highest since 6 September.
BHP, Australia’s largest oil and gas company, fell 1%to A$30.32. Inpex Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest oil explorer, slid 2.8% to 972,000 yen.
Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s No. 1 trading company, declined 1.3% to 2,705 yen. Industrial fuel is the second-biggest contributor to the company’s sales. Santos Ltd., Australia’s third-largest oil and gas company, fell 0.3% to A$10.26.