Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark gauge extending an eight-week low, as the slump in oil raised concern about the global economy and a stronger yen weighed on Japanese equities.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.3 percent to 135.24 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo after closing at its lowest level since Oct. 17 yesterday. The Standard & Poors 500 Index declined 0.6 percent as the selloff in crude overshadowed a surge in industrial production. The yen gained 0.8 percent against the dollar. The Federal Reserve starts a two-day meeting today, with investors watching for whether the central bank will push back the timeline for raising interest rates.
Crude oil dropped to the lowest level in more than five years after the United Arab Emirates said OPEC wont rein in production in response to the slump. West Texas Intermediate for January delivery declined $1.90, or 3.3 percent, to $55.91 a barrel yesterday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since May 2009. It extended declines to $55.67 per barrel today.
Japans Topix index sank 1.2 percent as the yen maintained yesterdays advance, trading at 117.85 per dollar. South Koreas Kospi index and Australias S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.7 percent. New Zealands NZX 50 Index slipped 0.2 percent.