Asian stock markets declined Monday as concerns over the impact of a slowing Chinese economy and tough speech by U.S. President Barack Obama over Iran nuclear program weighed on the sentiment.
The Japanese benchmark, Nikkei, declined 0.80 percent or 78.44 points to 9,698.59, Chinese Shanghai Composite fell 0.64 percent to 2,445.00 and Hong Kong' Hang Seng declined 1.37 percent or 294.85 points to 21,267.41, while South Korea's Seoul Composite declined 0.91 percent.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao lowered his nation's economic growth to 7.5 percent for 2012, the lowest since 2004. The economy grew at the rate of 9.2 percent and 10.4 percent in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
The continuing crisis in Europe and the weak economy in the U.S. have the hurt demand for Chinese exports, which are the key drivers of the country's economy. Earlier, the International Monetary Fund had warned that an escalation of Europe's debt crisis could reduce China's economic growth by half for this year.
We aim to promote steady and robust economic development, keep prices stable, and guard against financial risks by keeping the total money and credit supply at an appropriate level, and taking a cautious and flexible approach, Wen said in his annual work report to the National People's Congress.
Meanwhile, Obama said in a speech Sunday that he would not hesitate to military action when it is necessary to defend the US and its interests, highlighting tensions between the US and Iran, and likely keeping oil price elevated.
Light sweet crude for April delivery gained $0.50 to $107.20 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange during Asian trading hours. Brent crude oil futures for April delivery raised $0.32 to $123.97 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.