Japanese stocks fell, led by energy explorers, after crude oil plunged below $40 a barrel.
The Topix index dropped 0.2 percent to 1,599.12 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo as all but eight of its 33 industry groups retreated. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 0.3 percent to 19,988.35. The yen traded at 123.24 per dollar after weakening 0.3 percent on Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen laid the groundwork for the first U.S. rate increase since 2006 just as Europe braces for higher borrowing costs.
West Texas Intermediate oil traded at $40.14 in early Thursday after slumping 4.6 percent in the previous session in New York to $39.94, the lowest close since Aug. 26.
The selloff was sparked by signs of discord in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as ministers arrive in Vienna for a meeting. A majority of OPEC members agree on an output cut, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab countries, the Iranian Oil Ministry’s Shana news agency said.
E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed after the underlying gauge dropped 1.1 percent on Wednesday, its steepest one-day loss since Nov. 13.