Asia stocks mixed after weak lead from Wall Street


Thursday 03.10 GMT

What you need to know

  • Stocks mixed in Asia after weak lead-in from Wall Street
  • New Zealand oil stocks suffer from planned offshore exploration ban
  • Oil prices settle after rising on Middle East tension

Leading quote

Equities were mixed in Asia on Thursday after Wall Street dipped during the previous session, while forex markets were muted and oil benchmarks settled down after Brent briefly rose above $73 a barrel on Wednesday amid heightened tension in the Middle East.

Hot topic

Stocks were mostly lower at major Asian bourses on Thursday with the exception of Hong Kong, where the benchmark Hang Seng index edged up 0.2 per cent. Much of that boost came from the energy sector, up 2.6 per cent, with shares in Chinese state-owned oil firms climbing on renewed concern over the situation in the Middle East.

Overnight on Wall Street, the energy sector rose 1.2 per cent as oil stocks climbed and the broader S&P 500 shed 0.6 per cent on fears over escalating tension in Syria and Saudi Arabia.

But oil companies in New Zealand were flagging after the country’s prime minister announced that it would ban future offshore oil and gas exploration. Shares in New Zealand Oil & Gas were down 3.2 per cent while the NZX 50 was off 0.5 per cent.

Equities in Sydney were less buoyant, with the S&P/ASX 200 index down 0.4 per cent as consumer non-cyclicals shed 0.8 per cent and energy stocks dipped 0.4 per cent. In Tokyo the Topix index was off 0.3 per cent.

Forex and fixed income

Foreign exchange markets were muted during early Asia trading, with the dollar index fractionally lower at 85.514. Sovereign bond markets were similarly unmoved as yields, which move inversely to price, on 10-year US Treasuries held steady at 2.777 per cent.

Commodities

Oil prices were less jumpy in Asia after a bout of volatility during the previous session. International benchmark Brent crude briefly rose above $73 a barrel to a near three-year high on Wednesday after US president Donald Trump warned Russia to “get ready” for US missiles to be fired at Syria in response to alleged chemical attacks and reports that Saudi Arabia’s air defences had intercepted a “rocket” above Riyadh.

Both major benchmarks had cooled off by Thursday, however, as Brent was off 0.1 per cent at $71.99 and US marker West Texas Intermediate was up 0.1 per cent at $66.86.

Gold was down 0.1 per cent at $1,351.75 per ounce.

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