Asian stock markets tumble after oil prices crash
Asian stock markets started Monday trading spooked by a major crash in oil prices.
In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index crashed 6.1% while in Australia, the ASX 200 dropped about 6% in early trading.
Markets have been rattled by the threat of a price war between oil exporting group Opec and its main ally Russia.
Asian investors also reacted to a slump in Chinese export figures released at the weekend.
Global markets are seeing heightened volatility over fears of a major economic hit from the coronavirus.
After oil prices crashed more than 20% on Monday, energy firms have seen some of the biggest share price falls.
Australia-listed Oil Search's share price dropped by 31% while energy firm Santos saw its shares drop more than a quarter in value (27%).
Oil and other commodity companies make up a large part of the Australian stock market.
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In China, its benchmark Shanghai Composite fell almost 2%, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index plummeted 3.7% in early trading on Monday.
"China will make its contribution to the thunder clouds hanging over markets as Monday starts," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market at broker OANDA.
On Saturday, China released import and export figures for the first two months of the year. Exports fell by 17.2% while imports dropped by 4%. This gave the Chinese economy a trade deficit of $7.1 billion as it struggles with the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
"China may slowly be returning to work, but manufacturers will now likely be facing an international fall in demand, with coronavirus now well-established outside of Chinese shores," added Mr Halley.
In Japan, market sentiment was also hit by GDP data that showed a plunge in economic growth of 7.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019.