Asian markets open lower, ASX down 1%, BHP down 7% amid Brazil suit – CNBC

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Asian markets open on the back foot, after U.S. stocks fell overnight amid renewed global growth concerns and as oil prices lost ground.

“Equity market sentiment seems to be rolling over globally as the wind begins to come out of the oil price rally,” said Angus Nicholson, market analyst at spreadbetter IG, in a note Wednesday.

Oil prices retreated overnight, with U.S. crude futures settling down 2.5 percent at $43.65 a barrel, while Brent futures settled down 1.9 percent at $44.97.

In Sydney, the ASX 200 fell 1.2 percent in early trade, weighed by losses in the energy subindex, down 2.7 percent, and the materials subindex, which was lower by 4.09 percent.

Resource producers were all lower, with shares of Rio Tinto falling 4.64 percent, while Fortescue Metals was down 1.82 percent.

BHP Billiton shares tumbled 7.77 percent as investors digested news of the Australian miner getting slapped with a 155 billion real ($43 billion) civil lawsuit against iron miner Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton, for a dam spill in November in Brazil, Reuters reported.

The Australian dollar/U.S. dollar pair traded at 0.7504 as of 8:18 a.m. HK/SIN time. That’s down from levels a tad above 0.77 Tuesday afternoon before the Reserve Bank of Australia surprised markets by announcing a 25 basis point interest rate cut to a record low 1.75 percent.

In South Korea, the Kospi was trading 0.52 percent lower.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 last traded on Monday, when it closed down 3.1 percent; the market was closed Tuesday for the Constitution Day holiday and will be closed Wednesday for the Greenery day public holiday.

Major U.S. indexes closed mixed, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 0.78 percent, S&P 500 finishing 0.87 percent lower and the Nasdaq composite down 1.13 percent, its lowest close since March 14.