Tokyo, Japan (BBN) – Asian markets traded mixed on Wednesday afternoon, reversing some earlier losses, while oil prices remained under pressure after data overnight showed a build-up in US crude inventory.
In Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average closed up 96.82 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 19,007.60, retracing mild earlier losses, reports CNBC.
Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi closed down 10.13 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 2,065.08.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 153.56 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 23,485.13, erasing earlier losses of nearly 0.5 per cent, while Chinese mainland shares also posted gains.
The Shanghai composite gained 14.35 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 3,167.44, retracing losses of nearly 0.4 per cent, and the Shenzhen composite added 14.61 points, or 0.75 percent, to 1,941.79.
Markets in Singapore, Indonesia and India traded lower in the afternoon.
Australia’s ASX 200 closed up 29.47 points, or 0.52 per cent, at 5,651.40, but the energy sector declined 0.96 per cent.
Oil plays in the country ended mostly lower, with Santos shares losing 1.29 per cent, Oil Search down 1.01 per cent and Beach Energy lower by 2.65 per cent.
Oil prices declined on Wednesday, extending Tuesday’s more than 1 per cent drop after data showed a build-up in US crude inventory.
Reuters reported weekly data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) estimated US crude stockpiles surged by 14.2 million barrels last week.
Other oil plays in Asia finished mostly lower, with Japan’s Index down 1.12 per cent.
Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese energy plays CNOOC fell 1.24 per cent and PetroChina shed 0.17 per cent.
Sinopec Corp reversed losses of more than 0.3 per cent to close up 0.33 per cent.
US crude fell 0.79 per cent to $51.76 a barrel by 4:15pm (local time) HK/SIN on Wednesday, climbing from an earlier low of $51.22, while global benchmark Brent lost 0.49 per cent to $54.78.
Some analysts had expected the decline in oil prices following the API numbers.
“The herd, already nervous from the previous days price action, turned en masse and ran off the cliff,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.
Halley expects crude prices to remain under pressure.
“Clearly increased shale production is now taking its toll,” he said, adding if the Energy Information Administration’s crude inventory numbers, due later in the global day, show a large build, prices could fall further.
Resources producer BHP Billiton fell 0.85 per cent, after reports said the miner planned to halt production at a Chilean copper mine due to a workers’ strike on Thursday.
Reuters reported that BHP said it could not guarantee the safety of the 80 workers the Chilean government had authorized to remain at the Escondida mine to perform “critical duties,” such as equipment upkeep and adherence to environmental protocols.
On the currency market, the dollar traded relatively higher against a basket of currencies at 100.41 at 2:19 pm HK/SIN, climbing from levels below 100 in previous sessions.
“Over the past few days…slowly but surely the dollar has managed to crawl its way back up,” said Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at the National Australia Bank, in a note.
“To some extent, the dollar has won the least-ugly contest as the focus appears to have shifted away from the US towards political and fiscal uncertainty in Europe,” said Catril.
Among other major currency pairs, the yen traded at 112.28 against the dollar, climbing from an earlier low of 112.00 but stronger than levels above 113.4 reached last week.
Japanese exporters finished the session mostly higher, with Toyota shares up 0.61 per cent, Nissan up 0.85 per cent and Honda advancing 0.93 percent.
Shares of Mazda finished down 0.45 per cent, retracing some of its earlier losses of nearly 1.4 per cent, and Sony shares closed down 0.72 per cent.
Fujitsu shares declined 3.81 per cent to 651.5 yen, after Reuters reported the electronic conglomerate’s biggest shareholder, Fuji Electric, planned to sell about $1 billion worth of Fujitsu shares, or about an 8.2 percent stake in the company.
Elsewhere, the Australian dollar fetched $0.7640, while the euro traded at $1.0677.