[SYDNEY] Asian stocks fell for a sixth day, the longest losing streak since February, led by a rout in commodity shares as crude oil traded below US$44 a barrel and concern grew over lackluster global economic growth.
The MSCI Asia Pacific ex Japan Index declined 0.9 per cent to 408.15 as of 9:32 am in Hong Kong. A retreat in industrial metals drove Australia's benchmark down the most in a month, while markets in Japan remain closed until Friday. Futures on the S&P 500 Index were flat after the US benchmark dropped 0.9 per cent Tuesday. BHP Billiton Ltd, the world's largest mining firm, slumped 7.8 per cent in Sydney.
"Equity market sentiment seems to be rolling over globally as the wind begins to come out of the oil price rally," said Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG Ltd in Melbourne.
"Given the move in commodity prices, the materials and energy sectors are set for a difficult session."
Losses among global shares extended into the Asian trading session Wednesday after the MSCI World Index fell to the lowest level since April 12 and crude retreated to US$43.65 a barrel on Tuesday, before regaining some ground to trade at US$43.77 Wednesday.
All eyes turn to the US monthly jobs report Friday amid evidence of economic weakness from the US to China and the UK.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined 0.6 per cent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms listed in the city fell 0.7 per cent. The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.4 per cent.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1.2 per cent, New Zealand's NZX 50 Index was little changed and South Korea's Kospi index fell 0.5 per cent before a two-day holiday.
Singapore's Straits Times Index retreated 1 per cent and Taiwan's Taiex index declined 0.3 per cent.