Asia stocks rise as crude prices stabilize

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

Financial spreadbetters at IG expected Britain’s FTSE 100 to open up by 2 points, while Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC were both seen rising by 0.6 percent.

“Asian markets have looked past the wobble in oil prices and Chinese data yesterday to push tentatively into the green,” Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Melbourne, said in a note to clients.

“However, volumes are very low throughout the region, even lower than the pre-Christmas trade last week, so it is difficult to read too much into them,” he added.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan 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 added 0.7 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.5 percent, as the central bank vowed to maintain reasonable credit growth and keep the yuan stable.

Both indexes had skidded more than 2 percent in the previous session as weak industrial profit data and a looming revamp of how companies will be listed, weighed on the market.

Japan’s Nikkei erased earlier losses and ended up 0.6 percent, while South Korea’s KOSPI was up 0.1 percent.

Australian stocks rallied 1.2 percent, gaining for the eighth consecutive session after reopening following a four-day long holiday weekend.

Crude oil futures stabilized after both Brent and U.S. crude prices dropped more than 3 percent on Monday. Brent edged up about 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 added about 0.2 percent to $36.89.

Their overnight tumble sent U.S. energy shares 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 expected to remain thin until after the long New Year holiday weekend.

Spot gold rose 0.5 percent to $1,073.80 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 120.32 yen, 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 $1.0976.

The dollar edged down against its Canadian counterpart to C$1.3873 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 toward 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 gained about 0.2 percent to $0.7265 while the New Zealand dollar rose 0.3 percent to $0.6868.

China’s yuan briefly touched its weakest level in 4-1/2 years against the greenback on strong dollar demand, following the central bank’s lowest midpoint fix since June 2011.

Source: Reuters

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