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Asian shares fall sharply amid China jitters

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.7%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was off 2.5% early today.

 
Asian shares fall sharply amid China jitters

Asian stocks extended last week’s global rout, with shares in China falling sharply early Monday, amid continuing worries about the Chinese economy and falling yuan.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.7% to 3135, while the Shenzhen Composite Index dropped 3.3% after a modest recovery from Friday.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell 2.5% and a gauge of Chinese firms listed in the city fell 3.25%.

Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was down 1.8% led by mining stocks and energy producers. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.9%, reaching its lowest level since September, while New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index slipped 0.9%, falling for a fifth day. Japan’s market was closed for national holiday.

In company news, Australian oil stocks Santos, Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum traded down between 3.21% and 7.4% after oil sank to its lowest since 2003.

Resource stocks were also down, pressured by lower commodity prices. Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, Australia's two biggest miners, shed 4.68% and 5.44% respectively.

In South Korea, shares of heavyweight Samsung Electronics were down 1.88% after the company missed its profit targets for the fourth quarter of December 2015 last week.

Currency markets saw some wild swings with the South African rand collapsing to record lows at one point before bouncing.

The Chinese yuan climbed 0.3% to 6.5765 per US dollar after the central bank set the reference rate little changed for a second day, after an eight-day run of weakening. The yuan was also steady in Hong Kong at 6.6831 per dollar.

The Japanese yen last traded at ¥117.12 per US dollar, 0.3% stronger than its level late Friday in Asia and its strongest in about four months.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude fell a sixth straight day, losing 1.4% to $32.69 a barrel, after sliding 10.5% last week. Gold prices were up 0.8% at $1,106.90 a troy ounce but copper futures declined.

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