Japanese stocks fell after oil prices dropped to a five-year low and as the yen strengthened for a fourth day, driving down energy shares and exporters.
The Topix index declined 1.5 percent to 1,386.01 as of 9:05 a.m. in Tokyo, headed for a third day of losses, with all but one of its 33 industry groups dropping. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average tumbled 1.4 percent to 17,171.49. The yen rose 0.3 percent to 117.52 per dollar after jumping 1.6 percent yesterday to cap its biggest three-day rally since June 2013. West Texas Intermediate oil sank 4.5 percent to $60.94 a barrel yesterday.
WTI crude has plunged from $100 a barrel since the end of July on surging U.S. shale supplies and lower demand amid signs of slowing growth in economies from China to Europe. Weekly data released yesterday showed U.S. crude inventories rose to the highest seasonal level on record, while OPEC cut next years production forecast to the lowest output in 12 years.
The dollar has weakened against the yen this week despite a stronger than expected U.S. jobs report on Dec. 5, which showed employers added the most workers since January 2012. The Federal Reserve is weighing employment growth as it meets next week to decide when the economy will be strong enough to withstand higher interest rates. In contrast, the Bank of Japan boosted stimulus measures on Oct. 31.