SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly in the red Thursday, surrendering early gains as oil drifted lower and sentiment remained fragile following big swings on Wall Street.
KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 2.4 percent to 16,017.26 and South Korea's Kospi inched down 0.3 percent to 1,840.53. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.3 percent to 18,641.56. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 4,864.00. China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.8 percent to 2,951.49. Markets in Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand also were lower. Indonesia rose.
GLOBAL TURBULENCE: Stock markets have taken a beating along with the price of oil as investors believe stock prices have risen too high at a time when the near-term global economic outlook is for modest growth rather than a strong upswing. The IMF lowering its forecast for global growth this year to 3.4 percent, oil falling below $30 a barrel and China's growth slowing to a 25-year low last year have all contributed to the sell-off this week. The European Central Bank is expected to keep interest rates on hold at ultra-low levels when its governing council meets later in the day as it monitors risks from turmoil in global markets.
THE QUOTE: "It is not advisable to interpret any rallies as evidence that we have seen a near-term bottom," Bernard Aw, a market strategist at IG in Singapore, said in a report. "As disciples of technical analysts know very well, a downtrend is typically marked by periods of rebounds."
WALL STREET: On Wednesday, U.S. stocks closed down but off their lows. The Dow closed down 1.6 percent to 15,766.74. The S&P 500 index fell 1.2 percent to 1,859.33, its lowest closing level since April 2014. At one point, it was down nearly 4 percent. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.1 percent to 4,471.69, closing at its lowest since October 2014.
ENERGY: The price of oil fell again after a brief pause. Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was down 12 cents to $28.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The February contract, which expired Wednesday, dived 6.7 percent, or $1.91, its worst daily drop since September, to close at $26.55 in New York. It was U.S. oil's lowest since May 2003. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost 2 cents to $27.85 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 116.98 yen from 117.19 yen in the previous trading session. The euro rose to $1.0895 from $1.0874.