Asian stock markets weaker as energy prices fall

AP News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2015 10:41 PM
Asian stock markets weaker as energy prices fall

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were lower Friday as a persistent drop in the price of oil weighed on investor sentiment, eroding gains sparked the day before by the Fed's first rate hike in nearly a decade.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 dipped 0.2 percent to 19,307.06 and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.1 percent to 1,976.31. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4 percent to 21,786.08 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.1 percent to 5,095.60. Stock markets, mainland China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia also were weaker.

ENERGY SLUMP: The price of oil traded weaker on Friday following a big fall earlier this week after a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories. Energy and mining stocks have been pummeled this year as the sluggish global economy reduces demand even as supplies become more abundant.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The Fed decision has clearly had no effect on the ongoing world of pain that oil prices find themselves in," said Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG in Melbourne, Australia. "A wave of defaults and bankruptcies in the energy sector still looks likely to come, and these concerns are certainly weighing on markets."

OIL PRICES: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 11 cents at $34.84 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It closed 1.6 percent lower, or 57 cents, at $34.95 a barrel in New York on Thursday. It had not closed beneath $35 per barrel since Feb. 18, 2009 and traded above $60 a barrel as recently as June. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was up 7 cents at $37.13 a barrel in London

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks skidded Thursday as companies that sell oil, gold and silver tumbled along with the prices of those commodities. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 1.4 percent to 17,495.84. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 1.5 percent to 2,041.89. The Nasdaq composite index gave up 1.4 percent to 5,002.55.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 122.45 yen from 122.58 yen in the previous session. The euro gained to $1.0842 from $1.0835.