Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Markets Tumble, Japan Sheds 2.3%

Asian stocks retreated into negative territory Monday, with most markets down more than 1 percent on fears that slowing U.S. consumer demand will hurt Asia's export-oriented economies. Japan shed 2.3 percent while South Korea slipped 1.5 percent.

U.S. stocks last week chalked up their biggest decline in three months as oil prices rocketed to record highs, stoking fears about inflation and weaker consumer spending as well as heightening concerns about second-quarter earnings.  Crude oil inched nearer to $133 a barrel in the Asian session Monday.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average shed 2.3 percent, the biggest fall in six weeks, led lower by exporters such as Canon on a firmer yen and losses on Wall Street. Auto stocks also suffered losses with Toyota Motor and Nissan Motors leading the declines.

Stock investors watch stock movement at a stock exchange in Chengdu, China.

South Korea's KOSPI closed 1.5 percent lower, losing for a sixth straight session, with losses by technology issues such as LG Electronics outweighing gains by financials such as Industrial Bank of Korea.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200Index fell 1.1 percent, led down by top miner BHP Billiton and retailers such as Woolworths on ongoing worries that high oil prices would dent consumer spending and hamper economic growth.

Hong Kong stocks fell 2.4 percent as soaring oil prices rekindled worries over inflation and its impact on the global economy, while China Mobile tumbled after an industry reshuffle. Goldman Sachs cut its rating on China Mobile to sell from neutral, saying the world's biggest wireless carrier looked to be heading into a uniquely unfavorable regulatory regime, with policies such as inter-operator roaming seriously threatening its many advantages.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was down almost 0.6 percent with market heavyweights Sembcorp Marine falling 3.3 percent and SIA slipping 1.3 percent.

China's Shanghai Composite Index fell more than 3 percent, tracking weak overseas markets as high global oil prices threatened to boost inflation. But telecoms-related shares continued to surge on news of an industry restructuring. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's biggest lender, dropped over 2 percent. Vanke, the biggest listed property developer, tumbled 3 percent.

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