Tokyo, Japan (BBN)-Asian stocks fell, dragged down by energy-related shares as oil prices hit their lowest levels since 2009.
The price of West Texas crude dropped 5.8 per cent to $37.65 a barrel, while Brent Crude fell 5.3 per cent to $40.73, reports BBC.
Oil prices have been hit after OPEC – the oil producers’ cartel – failed to cut production last week.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed down 1 per cent at 19,492.6, despite figures showing that Japan’s economy avoided a technical recession in the third quarter.
Shares in troubled Japanese tech giant Toshiba ended 3 per cent lower following the news that the firm could face a record fine of 7.37bn yen ($60m; £39m) for its multi-billion dollar accounting scandal.
Fifty individual Toshiba shareholders are also seeking $2.45m in damages from the firm after its stock plunged following the accounting scandal.
Oil stocks hurting
Fresh data from China showed the country’s exports fell 3.7 per cent in yuan-denominated terms in November from a year earlier, while imports fell 5.6 per cent.
The latest figures leave the country with an overall trade surplus of 343bn yuan ($53.4bn) and did little for investor sentiment.
The Shanghai Composite index closed down 1.9 per cent at 3,470.07, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 1.3 per cent to 21,905.13.
Shares in China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC Group) – a major oil firm in China – finished 3.6 per cent lower.
In Australia, Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.91 per cent at 5,108.60 points, with energy stocks weighing on the index.
Shares in BHP Billiton, which has substantial interests in conventional and unconventional oil and gas, closed down 5 per cent in Sydney trade.
Meanwhile, Sydney-listed shares of oil and gas provider Santos closed down 12.6 per cent.
Analysts warned investors to steer clear of shares related to the oil and gas sector.
“With conditions expected to remain volatile, investors would be wise to avoid the sector altogether and focus on other opportunities instead,” said the Motley Fool’s Ryan Newman.
On a brighter note, shares of South Korea’s Samsung Engineering – part of the huge family-run Samsung conglomerate – jumped by nearly 24 per cent in early trade after the group’s heir, Lee Jae-yong, said he would back the construction arm’s 1.2 trillion won ($1.02bn) rights issue.
Samsung Engineering posted a record quarterly loss in the three months to September, prompting plans for the rights issue.
The firm’s shares finished the trading day up 14 per cent.
However, the good news did little to help the benchmark Kospi index, which finished the day down 0.75 per cent at 1,949.04.