Asian shares sagged on Wednesday as oil prices sank again due to fading hopes of a deal to curb a global supply glut, prompting investor to seek shelter in safe-haven assets and lifting bonds and gold to multi-month highs.
Australian shares fell 1.4 percent in early trade, pushing down the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan 0.5 percent. Japan's Nikkei looks set to open down about 2.0 percent, based on the pricing of futures. Overnight, the U.S. S&P 500 index fell 1.9 percent.
Benchmark Brent crude slumped 4.4 percent on Tuesday while U.S. crude fell an even bigger 5.5 percent, settling below $30 a barrel. Brent gave up its gains made over the last three sessions while U.S. futures wiped out their gains made in more than a week.
Gold prices nudged up slightly in Asia on Wednesday with the continued focus on likely Federal Reserve steps on interest rates this year. Gold hit a three-month high of $1,130.90 per ounce on Tuesday and last stood at $1,127.6. Silver for March delivery fell 0.06% to $14.270 a troy ounce, while copper for March delivery fell 0.24% to $2.044 a pound.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand may cut the official cash rate again this year, Governor Graeme Wheeler said Wednesday. NZD/USD traded at 0.6528, up 0.24%, while AUD/USD changed hands at 0.7005, down 0.45%. USD/JPY traded at 119.68, down 0.23%, after the release of December board minutes from the Bank of Japan that suggested there were no plans to move to negative interest rates at the time. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand may cut the official cash rate again this year, Governor Graeme Wheeler said Wednesday.