Australia mining stocks plunge on oil and weak earnings
Australian mining and energy-related stocks plunged on Wednesday following weak earning reports and a further drop in the price of oil.
Crude prices fell for a second day to about $31 per barrel after Saudi Arabia ruled out production cuts despite the industry’s supply glut.
Mining giant BHP Billiton lost more than 8% while Santos shed 6.6%.
Fortescue tumbled nearly 5% after it reported first-half net profit fell by 3.6% because of low iron ore prices.
The selloff dragged on Sydney’s benchmark ASX 200, which finished 2.1% lower at 4,875 points.
Over in Japan, the Nikkei 225 finished the session down 0.85% at 15,915.79 because of concerns over the strong yen.
The yen rose as much as 0.3% against the dollar in Asia trade, hurting some of Japan’s big export companies.
South Korea’s Kospi index finished the trading day flat, down 0.09% at 1,912.53.
Hong Kong budget
In China, shares had a mixed trading session.
The Shanghai Composite index closed 0.9% higher at 2,928.90 points, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong ended 1.2% lower at 19,192.45.
In his annual budget speech on Wednesday, Hong Kong’s financial secretary John Tsang said that the outlook was not positive and that the city’s “political volatility” could hurt the economy.
He said the government forecasts growth of between 1% and 2% this year.
A big loser of the day was lender Standard Chartered, which shed about 6% in Hong Kong trade after the Asia-focused bank on Tuesday posted a $1.5bn (£1.1bn) loss.