Asia stocks edge up as crude prices stabilise

29 Dec, 2015 9:29 am

TOKYO – Asian stocks poked into positive territory on Tuesday, shrugging off early losses as Chinese shares stabilized a day after marking their biggest loss in a month and crude prices took back some lost ground.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.1 percent. But it remained on track to mark a loss of around 12 percent for 2015, a year that saw it log a more than seven-year high in April.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 added 0.3 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC was up 0.2 percent, after both skidded more than 2 percent in the previous session.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 erased earlier losses and was up 0.3 percent in afternoon trade, while South Korea’s KOSPI .KS11 was up 0.1 percent.

Australian stocks rose 0.9 percent, gaining for the eighth consecutive session after reopening following a four-day long holiday weekend.

Crude oil futures stabilised after both Brent and U.S. crude prices dropped more than 3 percent on Monday. Brent LCOc1 edged up 0.1 percent a barrel to $36.67, though it was still not far from an 11-year low of $35.98 struck last week, while U.S. crude also added about 0.1 percent to $36.85.

The overnight tumble sent U.S. energy shares .SPNY down 1.8 percent, the worst performing of the major S&P sectors. Wall Street marked modest losses after trading resumed following the Christmas break, with this week’s activity is expected to remain thin until after the long New Year holiday weekend.

Spot gold XAU= rose 0.3 percent to $1,074.40 an ounce after falling overnight in line with crude.

“Over the short-term, the precious metal will likely trend sideways, as funds look to close out the year and contemplate heading into next year with a fresh slate,” said INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir.

In currencies, the dollar edged down about 0.1 percent to 120.29 yen JPY=, within striking distance of a two-month low of 120.05 struck late last week.

The greenback has been sapped by profit taking after the Federal Reserve this month hiked interest rates for the first time in nine years. Investors are waiting for the Fed to send fresh signals about when the second rate hike could take place in 2016 to determine the dollar’s near-term direction.

The euro nudged up 0.1 percent to $1.0979 EUR=.

The dollar edged down against its Canadian counterpart to C$1.3872 CAD=D4 after the loonie slipped overnight in line with weakening crude oil prices. The Canadian unit plumbed an 11-year low of C$1.4003 against the dollar earlier this month.

“We are looking for USD/CAD to break 1.40 and head towards 1.45 in the first half of 2016. The oil industry is experiencing its biggest downturn since the 1990s and prices could fall another $10 a barrel before bottoming,” wrote Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management.

The Australian dollar AUD=D4 gained about 0.2 percent to $0.7262 while the New Zealand dollar NZD=D4 rose 0.3 percent to $0.6866. China’s yuan CNY=CFXS firmed against the dollar, having earlier hit its weakest level in 4-1/2 years on strong dollar demand, following the central bank’s lowest midpoint fix since June 2011. -Reuters

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