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Asian markets fall on worries over oil prices, US economy; Indian stock index down 3.3 percent

Asian markets fall on worries over oil prices, US economy; Indian stock index down 3.3 percent

Asian stock markets fell Monday, tracking Wall Street's losses amid alarm over soaring oil prices and sluggishness in the U.S. economy.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index dropped 308.06, or 2.1 percent, to 14,181.38. Singapore's benchmark index closed down nearly 2 percent, while South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and New Zealand stocks slid well over 1 percent.
Indian shares were hardest hit, with the benchmark Sensex falling as much as 4.4 percent before recovering some. By late afternoon, it was down 3.3 percent at 15,066.10.
Oil prices eased in Asian trading, but investors were still spooked by the 8 percent jump in oil prices on Friday to a record close of $138.54 a barrel. On Monday in Asia, the July contract for light, sweet crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange slipped back to just above US$137 a barrel.
"It's anybody's guess where oil prices will go. Nobody can call the price," said Gul Tekchandani, a Mumbai-based investment adviser. "Clearly nobody will venture close to the market. The sentiment is negative."
Sentiment toward the American economy _ a vital export market _ also soured after figures released Friday showed the U.S. jobless rate jumped from 5 percent to 5.5 percent in May, the biggest gain in more than 20 years.
India's index briefly slipped below the 15,000-mark for the first time since mid-March, pulled down by heavy selling in blue chips in the power, banking, oil and gas sectors.
Oil & Natural Gas Corp. or ONGC, sank 5.4 percent. Automobile stocks declined, with Tata Motors Ltd. dropping 5.1 percent and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. down 3 percent.
Last week, India cut government subsidies on gasoline, cooking gas and diesel fuel, effectively raising retail prices. The move triggered angry demonstrations in several parts of the country.
In Japan, exporters took a hit, with Canon Inc. dropping 4.4 percent and Toyota Motor Corp. sliding 2.9 percent.
But overall the Tokyo market declined less than some had feared. Some traders said Wall Street could rebound this week after the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 3 percent Friday.
One Japanese share that made a splash in an otherwise gloomy session was sportswear maker Goldwin, whose shares shot up 22 percent. Individual investors piled into the stock because the company has a license to sell Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuits, which was what Japanese swimmers were wearing as they set new national and world records at the Japan Open swimming competition over the weekend.
Markets in Hong Kong, mainland China and Australia were closed for public holidays.
In currency trading, the dollar bought 105.42 yen, up from 104.90 late Friday in New York. The euro rose to US$1.5806 from US$1.5777 Friday.


Updated : 2021-08-03 20:53 GMT+08:00