Asia-Pacific stocks struggle for direction; oil prices drop close to 2%

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Thursday, while oil prices dipped on the back of a report that Saudi Arabia could step in if Russian crude production falls under EU sanctions.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite closed 0.42% higher at 3,195.46 while the Shenzhen Component gained 0.667% to 11,628.31.

“There is a tactical opportunity in China right now,” according to Dan Fineman, co-head of Asia-Pacific equity strategy at Credit Suisse.

“Equities are very cheap, they seem to be finding some sort of formula for dealing with Covid, so I think that we probably are at or near the bottom for Chinese equities,” Fineman said. “The government isn’t going to come out with a big bazooka of new measures, but I think that as we approach the party congress at the end of the year policy will become more and more supportive.”

The major Chinese city of Shanghai reopened on Wednesday following weeks of stringent Covid-related lockdowns.

The Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex in India also rose 0.31% and 0.47%, respectively, in Thursday afternoon trade.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was about 1% lower, as of its final hour of trading.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan shed 0.16%, closing at 27,413.88, while the Topix index fell 0.63% to 1,926.39. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 1%, ending its trading day at 2,658.99.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.8% on the day to 7,175.90.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.88% lower.

Oil drops around 2%

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 1.84% to $114.15 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dropped 1.98% to $112.98 per barrel. Both crude benchmarks had earlier declined more than 2% each.

Those losses came after the Financial Times reported Saudi Arabia is ready to pump more oil if Russian output declines. That comes after European Union leaders agreed earlier this week to ban most Russian crude imports by the end of the year.

Australia’s trade surplus widened to 10.495 billion Australian dollars ($7.525 billion) in April, data from the country’s Bureau of Statistics showed Thursday. That was higher than the surplus of 9.3 billion Australian dollars predicted in a Reuters poll.

Following the data release, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.717, still off levels above $0.72 seen recently.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 shed 0.75% to 4,101.23. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 176.89 points, or 0.54%, to 32,813.23. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.72% to 11,994.46.


The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 102.393 after a recent jump from below 102.

The Japanese yen traded at 129.85 per dollar, weaker as compared with levels below 128 seen against the greenback earlier this week.

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