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    MORNING BELL: Oil prices raise concerns about global economy

    Asian shares skidded on Thursday, taking their cue from steep losses on Wall Street as an overnight rout in oil prices heightened worries about the global economy.

    MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.7 percent in early trade Japan's Nikkei shed 3.3 percent, as downbeat domestic data added to the gloom.

    Crude oil eased in Asia on Thursday with mixed regional data acting as a dampener to sentiment. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for February delivery eased 0.05% to $30.48 a barrel. Global benchmark Brent settled down 1.8 percent on Wednesday at $30.31 a barrel, after falling as low as $29.96. That marked its first move below $30 a barrel since April 2004.

    Undermined by lower U.S. yields, the dollar lost ground to the perceived safe-haven Japanese counterpart. It was buying 117.38 down about 0.2 percent. The euro edged up about 0.1 percent to $1.0889.

    The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was quoted at 98.94, up 0.02%. Overnight, the dollar trimmed gains against the other major currencies on Wednesday, but it still remained supported as upbeat Chinese trade data and stability in Asian markets continued to lift market sentiment.








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