Asian stocks fell, with Japanese and Australian shares on the cusp of joining China in a bear market, as a continuing collapse in oil prices heightened concern over the strength of the global economy.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.9 percent to 119.05 as of 4:06 p.m. in Hong Kong, extending this year’s slide to 9.8 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 1.1 percent after plunging as much as 2.8 percent in early trading, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.7 percent. Both are down 19 percent from their 2015 peaks, approaching the 20 percent level that would send them into bear markets.
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.