Asian stock markets declined first time in three days on Monday as sentiment was dampened by higher oil prices amid continuing political unrest in the Middle East.
Oil futures in Asia trade climbed 1.84 percent to more than $106.34 per barrel – the highest since September 2008 -- on fears that Libyan turmoil will disrupt supply. Gold futures advanced 0.59 percent to $1,437.10 an ounce.
Tokyo shares fell, led by declines from exporters. Benchmark index Nikkei declined 1.76 percent or 188.64 points to 10,505.02. Canon Inc., which gets most of its revenue from overseas, declined 2.41 percent to 3,840 yen and Sony Corp. fell 1.74 percent to 2,926 yen, while Toyota Motor, the world’s largest carmaker, declined 2.37 percent to 3,695 yen.
The foreign minister of Japan, Seiji Maehara, has resigned after revelations emerged that he accepted a political donation from a foreign source (which is illegal according to Japanese law). Maehara admitted he took a 50,000 yen ($610) donation per year between 2005 and 2008 and again in 2010 from a South Korean citizen resident in Japan.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 11.62 points or 0.05 percent to 23,397.24. BaWang International Group slumped 4.07 percent to HK$2.12 and Angang Steel fell 3.37 percent to HK$10.32 after BNP Paribas cut its rating.
Meanwhile Chinese stocks advanced, led by gains from consumer and energy companies after the government said domestic consumption will drive economic growth. Chinese Shanghai composite gained 1.76 percent or 51.76 points to 2,994.07. PetroChina gained 2.62 percent and Shenhua Energy surged 10.04 percent.
South Korean shares ended lower on Monday, led by declines from transport and technology companies. Benchmark Seoul composite declined 24.41 points or 1.22 percent to 1,980.27. Korean Air Line declined 3.14 percent and Asiana Airlines plunged 6.09 percent due to higher crude oil prices. Samsung Electronics slumped 4.12 percent on speculation that its first quarter earnings will fall short of analysts’ expectation due to weak display business.