Business

Oil prices continue to weigh on Asian markets

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Asian stocks headed lower on Wednesday as falling oil prices continued to hurt energy-related shares and cut into investors' confidence.

The price of US crude oil - West Texas Intermediate - fell below $37 a barrel on Tuesday, before recovering to $38.24.

A hit to commodity firms, along with a stronger yen led Japan's Nikkei 225 index to end down 1% at 19,301.07.

Shares failed to be boosted by better-than-expected factory data.

Machinery order data - a leading indicator of investment in the country - showed orders in October had increased by the most since March last year. Orders rose 10.7% from the previous month, well ahead of forecasts for a fall of more than 1%.

Chinese inflation

In China, investors shrugged off government data that indicated consumer inflation had picked up slightly in November, because it still remained well below the government's target of 3%.

The consumer price index rose 1.5% from a year ago, compared with a rate of 1.3% in October.

The Shanghai Composite index reversed earlier losses to close up 0.1% at 3,472.44, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.5% to finish at 21,803.76.

In Australia, Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.5% at 5,080.50.

Korea's benchmark Kospi index ended the day 0.8% lower at 1,948.24. The index has now fallen for six consecutive sessions, its longest losing streak since mid-August.

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