Asian Stocks Sink After Oil Prices Plunge Amid Virus Fears

March 9, 2020 Updated: March 9, 2020
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BEIJING—Asian stock markets plunged Monday after oil prices nosedived on worries the global economy, weakened by a virus outbreak, might be awash in too much crude.

Tokyo’s benchmark tumbled 5.5 percent, while Sydney fell 7.3 percent. Seoul sank 4 percent and Hong Kong lost 3.6 percent. Thailand’s SET plummeted 6.8 percent. Shares also sank in Middle East trading on Sunday.

The latest jolt came from Saudi Arabia, Russia and other oil producers arguing over how much to cut output to prop up prices.

Investors usually welcome lower energy costs for industries and consumers, but in the current atmosphere of anxiety, they were rattled by the abrupt plunge.

Investors already were on edge about the mounting costs of the coronavirus outbreak that began in China and has disrupted travel and trade.

“Investors should brace for volatility,” James Trafford of Fidelity International said in a report.

A recovery in oil and stock prices “will require some stabilization in the coronavirus data points” or signs of agreement among crude producers, Trafford said.

By Joe McDonald