Asian indexes ended mostly lower Thursday, as a spike in oil prices fueled concern about inflation and and investors worried about liquidity and demand.
Following Wall Street's sharp declines overnight, wary regional investors eyed the European Central Bank's interest-rate decision due later in the day. The ECB is widely expected to raise rates, which could fuel concern about decreased liquidity.
In Tokyo, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index extended its selloff to an 11th straight session -- its longest slide in over 50 years. The Nikkei closed down 1.1% at 13143.37.
Steel companies were hit especially hard on concerns that a slump in U.S. auto sales would sap demand for steel. Following a 14% plunge in shares of U.S. steelmaker Nucor overnight, Nippon Steel /zigman2/quotes/209782682/delayed JP:5401 -0.46% dropped 2.9% and JFE Holdings /zigman2/quotes/204336633/delayed JP:5411 -0.54% fell 3.9%. The weakness in steel shares also hurt trading houses, which do big business in commodities. Mitsubishi dropped 4.4%, while Mitsui /zigman2/quotes/203763780/delayed JP:7003 -0.26% & Co. fell 3.5%.
Some smaller electronics bucked the market's weak trend. Pioneer rose 4.1% on local media reported that the company would sell a display factory as part of plans to shutter its ailing plasma-screen business. Sanyo Electric gained 3.4% after it said it will build a new plant for lithium-ion batteries used in personal computers.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 2.1% to 21242.78 as the market tracked losses in the U.S. and other regional exchanges.
Financial stocks led the declines. Ping An Insurance /zigman2/quotes/210315058/delayed HK:2318 -0.12% plunged 8.6%, while peer China Life Insurance /zigman2/quotes/202359856/delayed HK:2628 -0.58% shed 3.6%. Chinese banks edged lower after Credit Suisse said in a research report that investors were worried about banks' earnings next year as the cost of credit rises. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 -0.75% fell 4%, China Construction Bank /zigman2/quotes/208974133/delayed HK:939 -0.79% dropped 4.9% and Bank of China /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 -0.75% shed 0.3%.
However, bargain-hunting helped the mainland's Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both Class A and Class B shares, end up 2.0% at 2703.53.
Steelmakers posted the biggest gains, with Wuhan Iron & Steel rising 4.0% and Baoshan Iron & Steel climbing 3.2%. Most financial firms also rebounded after their recent sharp declines. China Life jumped 5.1%.
Ping An Insurance fell 5.8% on concerns over a continuing tax investigation. The company said Thursday the State Administration of Taxation is conducting a regular investigation of the company's tax expenses, but didn't give details.
Oil refiners underperformed the market on rising oil prices. Chinese refiners can't pass on rising costs to their customers because the government regulates domestic prices of oil products. China Petroleum & Chemical increased 0.4% while PetroChina edged up 0.7%.
In Seoul, the Korea Composite Stock Price ended 1.1% lower at 1606.54. Bargain-hunting helped pare early losses on inflation concerns.
Steelmakers, shipbuilders and auto manufacturers fell as a spike in oil prices spurred fears that rising inflationary risks may damp demand for their products. Posco tumbled 6.3%, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering lost 2.7% and Hyundai Motor declined 4.5%.
Oil's surge also weighed down airline stocks. Flag carrier Korean Air fell 1.8% while rival Asiana Airlines dropped 4.1%.
However, the technology sector rebounded after recent sharp falls. Samsung Electronics edged up 0.5%, while Hynix Semiconductor rose 5.5%.
Elsewhere, resource and energy stocks dragged Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index 1.9% lower to close at 4998.3. BHP Billiton lost 7.2%, Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO +0.83% slid 7.8% and Woodside Petroleum /zigman2/quotes/203437212/delayed AU:WPL +1.95% shed 3.9%.
Mumbai's benchmark Sensex Index dropped more than 5% in late trading Thursday amid investor uncertainty and worries about a spike in crude oil prices. The Sensex dipped close to 700 points in noon trading, falling below the psychologically important 13000 mark for the second time this week before rebounding to 13165.14.
In currencies, the dollar stood at ¥106.00 Thursday afternoon, up from ¥105.92 late Wednesday. The dollar rebounded a bit against the euro after dropping close to two-month lows earlier in the day. The euro was trading at $1.5865 compared with $1.5880 Wednesday.
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