Asian stocks surrendered early gains and turned lower on Monday, as investors worried about the sluggish U.S. economic outlook and Europe’s debt crisis.
Japan’s Nikkei index was down 1%, hitting a five-month closing low. Additionally, there’s increasing expectations that Tokyo will intervene in forex markets to weaken the strong yen.
Shares of camera and office equipment maker, Canon, rose nearly 1%. But other exporters fell, with automaker, Toyota, dropping 2.5%.
Shares elsewhere in Asia fell more than 1.5% after briefly edging into positive territory earlier in the session.
South Korea’s KOSPI fell nearly 2%, extending falls to a third straight session as continued foreign selling pressured automakers.
Spot gold prices hit a record above $1,878 per ounce as the shaky global outlook prompted investors to move more money into the safe haven.
Brent oil futures fell more than 2%, weighed down by a firmer U.S. dollar and as the months-long conflict in oil-producing Libya appeared to enter its decisive phase.
Asian markets await Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech scheduled for Friday, during which he is expected to provide a U.S. economic outlook.