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Lower Oil Prices Hit Asian Stocks

Asian markets have opened lower as the fall in the oil price appears to be weighing on investor sentiment. In Japan the benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.4% in the first 90 minutes of trade, shedding nearly 230 points to 15,893.

Lower oil prices

In South Korea, the main index, the Kospi, lost 12 points at the open, or 0.6%, to start trading at 1,967.

Overnight on Wall Street, US stock indexes all ended lower. The price of US crude oil fell 3% in New York trade.

The drop extended falls from the previous two trading sessions as investors’ hopes that oil producers will agree to curb production at their meeting on 17 April fade.

Oil prices hit a peak of $116 in June 2014, but have plunged over 70% since then because of oversupply and sluggish demand.

The producers’ meeting later this month will take place in the Qatari capital, Doha. It will involve Opec and non-Opec members and will discuss freezing supply at January levels to help push the oil price back up.

In Australia, the commodities-heavy market is also lower.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 has lost 51 points or 1% to 4,944.

Spotlight on rates

The Reserve Bank of Australia, the country’s central bank, will hold its monthly meeting on interest rates later on Tuesday. Australia’s key lending rate is currently at a record low of 2%. The majority of economists polled by Reuters are expecting the central bank to keep rates on hold.

Meanwhile, India’s central bank will hold its monthly meeting on interest rates.

With recent low inflation in India, analysts are forecasting the Reserve Bank of India may increase the costs of borrowing.

Markets in China have also opened lower after Monday’s public holiday. The Shanghai Composite slipped by 0.25% to open at 3,002 points.

In Hong Kong the benchmark Hang Seng index, also fell, dropping more than 1%, or 280 points, and hovering around 20,215.

Taiwan remains shut for a public holiday and markets there will re-open on Wednesday.

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