Nikkei leads Asian shares down

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Shares in Tokyo led Asian markets down in early trade on Tuesday after US shares closed lower as investors reacted to further falls in the price of oil.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 was down as much as 1.6% to 16,910.48 points.

Brent crude fell 5.5% to $ 47.36 a barrel, while US crude dropped 5% to $ 45.90, both six-year lows.

The Nikkei was down despite numbers showing Japan had a current account surplus for the fifth month in a row.

The world’s third largest economy recorded a surplus in November of 433bn Japanese yen ($ 3.7bn; £2.43bn).

The numbers beat expectations and were due in part to a weaker yen, as well as a boost in returns from the nation’s overseas investments.

The current account surplus is an important measure of the trade Japan conducts with the rest of the world.

Elsewhere in Asia

Investors were waiting for the latest trade numbers to come out of China on Tuesday morning, after disappointing numbers last month added to fears of a continuing slowdown in the world’s second largest economy.

The Shanghai Composite was down 1.71% in early trade at 3,229.32 points, while in in Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index was down 0.49% to 23,908.23 points.

Mainland Chinese shares led losses across the region on Monday as investors sold shares to raise funds for upcoming listings this week.

In Australia, investors also reacted to falling oil prices, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 down 0.77% to 5,380.90 points in morning trade.

In South Korea, the benchmark Kospi was showing losses on Tuesday too, down 0.32% to 1,914.73 points.

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