Hong Kong: Asian stocks closed mostly down on Thursday after the oil price rose to a fresh all-time high, triggering a Wall Street tumble on Wednesday and stoking fears of rising inflation.
The Japanese market, the biggest in Asia, fell by more than 1% to close at 13,943.26. Singapore also suffered a heavy tumble, with the blue chip Straits Times Index sliding more than 1.7% to 3,171.88. Bourses in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea also ended in the red.
The weaker Asian performance followed a sharp Wall Street slide of more than 1.5% on Wednesday. Soaring crude prices triggered the US fall, with investors fearing energy costs would stoke inflation and hit consumer spending.
Results from Japan’s biggest auto maker, Toyota Motor Corp., also gave investors pause for thought. The firm’s forecasts indicated business would be tough amid a US economic slowdown following the global financial crisis.
Despite that, the belief the worst phase of the financial crisis had passed persisted, and some Asian markets finished higher on Thursday. The gainers were led by mainland China, where the benchmark Shanghai Composite closed up more than 2% at 3,656.84, and Australia, where the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1% to end the day’s trading at 5,723.2.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index closed down 160.42 points at 25,449.79. “The market extended (Wednesday’s) losses, but the downside was limited as select blue-chips, local banks and telecom stocks outperformed,” said Matthew Kwok at Tanrich Securities.
In Taiwan, the weighted index closed down 0.67% at 8,866.62 points.
South Korean shares closed marginally down after the central bank held interest rates steady at 5% and revised its growth forecast lower. The Kospi index declined 0.3%, 6.01 points at 1,848.00.
The main index in Malaysia closed down 0.5%, while that in Thailand ended 0.17% up.
In Jakarta, shares closed 0.2% lower, with the Composite Index falling 5.77 points to 2,376.93.