Asian stocks slumped, with Japanese shares poised for joining China in a bear market, as concern grew over the strength of the global economy amid the continuing collapse in oil prices.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 1.4 percent to 118.45 as of 9:17 a.m. in Tokyo, extending this year’s slide to 10 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 2.8 percent, set for a drop of 20 percent from a June peak. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index retreated 1 percent, bringing its decline from an April high to 19 percent. A bear market is typically defined as a drop of more than 20 percent.
Brent oil is below $30 a barrel for the first time in 12 years as global growth worries roil equity, bond and currency markets. Investors awaited 2015 gross domestic product estimates from China on Tuesday as it struggles to boost a slowing economy and money managers debate how many times the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year.
Traders have been whipsawed in 2016, with equities around the world off to their worst start to a year on record as oil plummeted to levels last seen more than a decade ago and China struggled to maintain control over its markets.
The Shanghai Composite Index entered a bear market last week, for the second time in seven months, erasing gains from state support efforts amid persistent investor concern over volatility. China’s stock-market watchdog has acknowledged ineptitude and loopholes within its regulatory system after a review of the turmoil that has rocked local markets since June.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index has been in a bear market since August, as global equities plummeted after China devalued the yuan. The gauge is trading at the lowest level since 2012. Singapore has had one of the worst performances among global markets over the past year, with the Straits Times Index down more than 25 percent from a peak.