Falling oil prices take Asian stocks lower

<p>Asian shares extended their losses today as oil prices continue to fall.</p>

Asian shares were down today as the ongoing fall in oil prices raised investors concerns about the health of the global economy.

Benchmark US crude was down 22 cents to $55.69 (£36.62) a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. 

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 1.9 per cent to 16,774.92 and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.4 per cent to 1,912.04. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.2 per cent to 22,757.92, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.5 per cent to 5,158.10.

The only bright spot was the Shanghai Composite Index, which gained 0.7 per cent to 2,975.37, after weak factory data raised hopes of more stimulus. 

The preliminary Purchasing Managers’ Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics fell to 49.5, missing the median estimate of 49.8 in a Bloomberg survey.

"We expect (Chinese) policymakers to respond to the continued weakness with further rate cuts and liquidity injections," Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics, told AP.

Learn about the Asian markets and CFD trading at City Index.

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