Asian stocks fell stridently on the first day of the week, with automotive shares leading declines in Tokyo after the yen firmed against the dollar, while shares of telecom companies fell in Hong Kong, sending the Hang Seng index lower, amid uncertainty of who will win in the looming telecom-industry reforms.
In Tokyo the markets tumbled down after the yen firmed against the U.S. dollar. The Nikkei 225 declined 2.3% to 13,690.19, while the Topix index fell 2.4% to 1,344.18.
China`s Shanghai Composite Index eased 3.1% to 3,364.54 and the Shenzhen Composite Index was off 2.9% to 1,021.57. Australia`s S&P ASX/200 was down 1.1% to 5,707 and South Korea`s Composite Index gave up 1.5% to 1,800.58.
Hong Kong`s Hang Seng Index ended the morning session 2.4% lower, shedding 587 points to 24,127.31. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, Hong Kong`s benchmark for China stocks, was down 3% to 13,221.28.
Taiwan`s Weighed Price Index fell 1.4% to 8,707 while Singapore`s Straits Times index was down 0.9% to3,093.01; and Malaysia`s nudged 0.3% lower at 1,270.97. Thailand`s SET Index was down 2.4% and New Zealand`s NZX-50 fell 0.4%.
In the afternoon trading India`s Sensitive Index, or Sensex, was down by 2.4% to 16,414.81 and the broader S&P/CNX Nifty fell 1.5% to 4,872.95.
Meanwhile the crude oil rose for a second day in New York, after reaching a record last week, as militant attacks in Nigeria and declining output in Mexico increased the potential for supply disruptions.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Nigeria`s main militant group, said it attacked a crude-oil pumping station operated by Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Oil output in Mexico, the third-largest supplier to the U.S., for April fell the most in more than 12 years as flows from its largest field declined.
Crude oil for July delivery rose as much as $1.08, or 0.8 percent, to $133.27 a barrel in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $133.11 at 9:44 a.m. in London.
The July contract closed up $1.38, or 1.1%, to $132.19 on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday.
In currencies, the yen was quoted at 103.30 against the U.S. dollar, up from 103.35 yen in late New York Friday and 104.04 late Thursday.
The downbeat tone in Asia follows a negative session for U.S. indexes Friday, with shares pressured by a report showing inventories of unsold U.S. homes surged to a 23-year high in April. Market activity remained subdued ahead of the three-day Memorial Day weekend.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 145 points, The S&P 500 index fell 18 points, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 19 points.
European stocks edged lower in thin trade on Monday with markets in the U.K. and the U.S. shut for a holiday. In the morning trade the indices in Germany, France and Switzerland lost about 0.1% each in the morning trade. However at 9.12 GMT the German DAX 30 gained 0.2% to 6,957.02 while the French CAC 40 dropped 0.2% to 4,944.01.
On the economic front there is no significant release scheduled for the day.