6 Jan 2015

Nikkei leads downward trend

6:38 pm on 6 January 2015

Wall Street's sharp sell-off has spread to Asian sharemarkets as troubles in Europe and sliding oil prices rattle investors' confidence.

The Nikkei share average is down about 2.6 percent.

The Nikkei share average is down about 2.6 percent. Photo: AFP

Australian stocks have also been hit hard, while New Zealand shares also fell today.

Analysts say tumbling oil prices sparked the sell-off, as well as worries about political uncertainty in Europe as Greek elections loom.

Wall Street's benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index plunged more than 1.8 percent, and the selling continued across the Pacific to Japan and Australia.

Japan's Nikkei stocks index dropped 2.4 percent, and all markets in the region were hurt, while Australia's ASX 200 has lost nearly 2 percent so far in the day.

The Shanghai Composite was down 1.27 percent, while in Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng was down 1.04 percent in early trade.

New Zealand stocks fared better, but the benchmark top 50 Index still dropped about half a percent.

A senior strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo, Hirokazu Labeya, said the falling oil price showed few signs of slowing.

"Falls in oil prices are going beyond many people's expectations. This will put pressure on the earnings of U.S. energy firms."