Asia shares lose ground amid fresh declines in oil – CNBC

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Asia markets were mostly lower Thursday morning, following losses in U.S. equities overnight amid fresh declines in oil prices and concerns the Federal Reserve may hike interest rates sooner than expected.

In a morning note, Mizuho Bank said, “Expectations of an earlier Fed tightening are now seeping through markets, albeit at a slow pace with less investors willing to place bets on what the Fed say they might do, especially after what they have actually done by pushing back rate hikes.”

While last week’s Fed meeting was viewed as dovish, with the central bank saying it would likely increase rates twice this year, down from its previous forecast of four times, officals now appear to be putting an April hike back on the table.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard was the latest to join a growing chorus of Fed officials who say it’s time for the Fed to move.

“We can look at April and see what the data look like when we get to April,” Bullard told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. His comments came shortly after Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said the Fed should consider another hike as soon as next month.

That pushed up the dollar and weighed on commodity prices.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 reversed early losses to trade up 0.22 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.16 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.59 percent.

Chinese markets were mixed, with the Shanghai composite off by 0.52 percent, while the Shenzhen composite was flat.

Down Under, the benchmark ASX 200 was off by 1.05 percent, weighed by the financials subindex, which was down 1.95 percent.

Australian banking stocks were sharply lower, with ANZ down 5.41 percent, Commonwealth Bank of Australia off by 2.27 percent, Westpac down 4.11 percent and NAB falling 2.92 percent.

Earlier today, ANZ told the market it was expecting its first half of 2016 credit charges to increase by at least an additional 100 million Australian dollars ($75.10 million) on top of the more than A$800 million it had anticipated in February due to resource-related exposures.

Evan Lucas, market strategist at spreadbetter IG, told CNBC the announcement was “rubbing off on all Australian banks.”

Asia shares lose ground amid fresh declines in oil – CNBC}