BEIJING – Asian stock markets plunged Monday after oil prices nosedived on worries a global economy weakened by a virus outbreak might be awash in too much crude.
Tokyo's benchmark tumbled 6.2%, while Sydney fell 6.1%. Seoul sank 4.4% and Hong Kong lost 3.9%. Shares also sank in Middle East trading on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia, Russia and other oil producers are arguing over how much to cut output to prop up prices.
Markets already were troubled by the potential impact of the virus outbreak that began in China and has disrupted travel and trade.
Anxiety rose after Italy announced it was isolating cities and towns with some 16 million people — or more than one quarter of its population.
Oil markets were roiled by a dispute among Saudi Arabia, Russia and other producers over how much to cut output to prop up prices.
“The underlying global markets tone remains negative, as Italy has moved to quarantine one-quarter of its population," said Tai Hui of J.P. Morgan Asset Management in a report. Meanwhile, he said, “OPEC’s cooperation with Russia to support oil prices appears to have hit a major roadblock.”
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell to 19,473.07 after the government reported the economy contracted 7.1% in the October-December quarter, worse than the original estimate of a 6.3% decline in annual growth. That was before the viral outbreak slammed tourism and travel but after a sales tax hike dented consumers' appetite for spending.