Asian shares drop on oil price decline, growth concerns


Stocks in Asia fell Friday, with major indexes in Australia, Tokyo and Hong Kong each down more than 1.5%, as oil prices dropped and concerns grew about the pace of global growth.

The Nikkei Stock Average NIK, -1.15%  was down 1.5% to 15253.42, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -2.05%  was down 1.9% at 5198.90 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -1.80%  was 1.6% lower at 23147.81, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.97%  tumbled 2% on Thursday. The fall gave the Dow its first 300-point drop since late July, and its largest loss of the year.

Investors sold stocks in Asia as Brent crude LCOX4, -1.05%  , the global oil benchmark, tumbled to its lowest level since December 2010. Prices were down $1.93 at $88.13 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Overnight, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi reiterated his commitment to employ strong measures to combat low inflation in the eurozone, spurring expectations for further easing by the ECB. That added to volatility in global stock markets, where investors have already been on edge with the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates as well as a confluence of growth worries around the world, including in China and Europe

In Hong Kong, tensions rose after the government scrapped scheduled negotiations with pro-democracy protesters. The numbers of demonstrators has dwindled in recent days, but could rise again, potentially dealing another blow to local businesses and causing further transportation disruptions.

In Japan, minutes from a central bank meeting showed that one board member warned of possible negative effects of additional stimulus, even as many investors expect the Bank of Japan to expand monetary stimulus by early next year with inflation staying well below its target level. The comment indicated that not all board members were comfortable with aggressively easing policy further. Any signs of skepticism among central bankers about the economic effects of further easing could weaken the impact of such a move, especially in the minds of market participants.

The dollar USDJPY, +0.27%  traded at ¥107.80 from ¥107.84 late Thursday in New York. Recent dollar weakness has been hurting Japanese exporters, including Nissan Motor Co. 7201, -1.58%  , which was down 2.3%, while Mazda Motor Corp.7261, -2.77%  fell 2.5%.

Stocks in Australia again were at an eight-month lows with energy and mining stocks leading losses.

CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said a significant move in the next few days under the 5208 low hit by the benchmark index Tuesday would signal that September’s trend downward has resumed.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton Ltd. BHP, -2.74%  and Rio Tinto Ltd. RIO, -3.00% were down 2.3% and 2.8%, respectively. Woodside Petroleum Ltd. WPL, -2.67% was down 2.4%, Santos Ltd. STO, -3.15%  was 2.7% lower, and Oil Search Ltd.OSH, -4.02%  shed 3.3%.

Elsewhere, the Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, -0.62%  was down 0.6%, and South Korea’s Kospi SEU, -1.24%  was down 1.1%.