By V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch , Colin Ng and Puja Rajeev
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian stocks fell Thursday on worries that high crude-oil prices driven by the Libyan political crisis would fuel inflation and stifle economic growth.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.27% fell 1.2%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +1.15% gave up 0.8%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +2.96% dropped 1.3%, South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.6% and India’s Sensex tumbled 2.3% in afternoon trade.
The broad losses came after April crude-oil futures topped $100-a-barrel overnight in New York.
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China’s Shanghai Composite index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +1.60% rose 0.6%, advancing on the back of oil and coal shares, while Taiwan’s Taiex added 0.2% on bargain-buying in some beaten-down technology and airline stocks.
Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.03% futures dropped 61 points in screen trade.
“Inflation is continuing to rise globally … and investors are drawing the obvious conclusion that either their investments are going to be inflated away or they will have to face higher interest rates sooner than they had been made to believe,” said Uwe Parpart, chief Asia strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald.
A violent struggle for power in oil-rich Libya has boosted crude-oil prices recently, prompting concerns that the economic recoveries in the U.S. and Europe could get derailed, and potentially hurt Asian growth.
April Nymex crude-oil futures surged past $100 a barrel for the first time in more than two years late on Wednesday on worries about potential disruptions to supplies. The front-month futures contract continued to rally in electronic trading, and was recently up $3.78 at $101.88 a barrel on Globex.
In Japan, the market continued to push lower, weighed by the Mideast crisis and a stronger yen. Honda Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC +0.04% /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +0.63% dropped 1.4% and Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +1.19% fell 1.5%.
Tobu Railway Co. /zigman2/quotes/206733257/delayed JP:9001 -1.54% slumped 12.1% and Toyobo Co. /zigman2/quotes/205340851/delayed JP:3101 +1.31% /zigman2/quotes/203847866/composite TYOBY -7.91% sank 8.8% — both on dilution concerns. Tobu said Wednesday it will raise up to ¥93.20 billion ($1.14 billion) via equity financing and Toyobo was looking to raise ¥18.72 billion by issuing new shares to overseas investors.
Measuring-instrument maker Anritsu /zigman2/quotes/203744929/delayed JP:6754 -1.15% was down 5.6% after electronics maker NEC Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203814274/composite NIPNF +7.44% /zigman2/quotes/205173342/delayed JP:6701 -1.34% said it will lower its stake in the company. NEC fell 1.3%.
CSK Corp. soared 14.6% on news Sumitomo Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209745829/delayed JP:8053 +1.79% /zigman2/quotes/210460165/composite SSUMY +2.05% and a subsidiary will conduct a tender offer to buy a majority stake in the information-service company. Sumitomo Corp. was down 2.7%.
Origin Energy /zigman2/quotes/207944120/delayed AU:ORG -1.59% /zigman2/quotes/204023779/composite OGFGY +4.74% shed 3.5% on disappointing first-half earnings, and after it downgraded full-year earnings. Pacific Brands and Transpacific Industries Group shed 10.9% and 7.4%, respectively, on disappointing earnings.