Published on March 21, 2008
BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, tumbled by its highest amount in more than 20 years in Sydney.
PetroChina, the territory's biggest oil producer, declined in Hong Kong after reporting less-than-estimated profit. National Australia Bank led financial companies lower after the cost of protecting Asian bonds from default increased.
"The US is still the biggest contributor to global growth, so any slowdown will have implications for commodity prices," said Jason Teh, who helps manage the equivalent of US$5.3 billion (Bt166 billion) at Investors Mutual in Sydney. "It's going to be a one-way street for resources today."
The MSCI Asia-Pacific excluding Japan Index fell 1.9 per cent to 428.16 as of 4.28pm in Hong Kong, snapping a two-day, 3.6-per-cent advance.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 3.1 per cent, the most in two weeks, in shortened trading today, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 3.5 percent.
Stocks gained in Taiwan, where Jim Rogers, co-founder with George Soros of the Quantum Hedge Fund, said he was investing on expectations this week's presidential election will lead to improved ties with China. China's equities rebounded on speculation the government will cut a tax on stock trading.
An index measuring producers of raw materials tumbled by its highest amount in two months, the biggest decline among the 10 industry groups on MSCI's Asian index.
BHP, also Australia's largest oil producer, lost 8.3 per cent to 33.87 Australian dollars, its biggest fall since October 1987. The Rio Tinto Group, the world's third-largest mining company, fell 7.7 per cent to A$116.29.
A measure of six metals traded on the London Metal Exchange, including copper and nickel, dropped 2.8 per cent. Gold futures plunged the most since June 2006 to $945.30 an ounce in New York. Crude oil fell to $104.48 a barrel, after a government report showed US demand had dropped and after the US dollar rebounded against the euro.