Asian Stocks Mixed After Wall Street, Oil Gains

BEIJING (AP) -
A man (R) cleans electronic boards showing the Japan's Nikkei average, the exchange rate between Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar and stock quotation outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Issei Kato
A man cleans electronic boards showing Japan’s Nikkei average, the exchange rate between the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar and stock quotations, outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday. (Reuters/Issei Kato)

Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday after Wall Street rebounded from a losing streak and oil prices surged.

The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.9 percent to 3,023.64 points while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was unchanged at 15,727.81. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng held steady at 20,204.11 and Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.2 percent to 1,967.00. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.3 percent to 4,958.70 and New Zealand, Singapore and Jakarta also advanced. India’s Sensex tumbled 0.8 percent to 24,688.79.

Stocks broke a two-day losing streak as investors bought drug makers and other health care companies. Stocks have wavered as investors await quarterly earnings, and many are bracing for another shaky quarter. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 112.73 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,716.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 21.49 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,066.66. The Nasdaq composite index picked up 76.78 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,920.72.

Following stronger-than-forecast German factory output figures and Wall Street’s overnight gains, “improved sentiment is likely to spread to Asia markets today,” said Margaret Yang of CMC Markets in a report.

Biotech drug companies made their biggest gains in almost five years after Pfizer dropped a plan to buy Botox maker Allergan for $160 billion. That led investors to wonder whether it will look for other possible acquisitions. Pfizer and Allergan walked away from a proposed merger after the U.S. Treasury Department announced rules that made the deal less appealing. Pfizer rose $1.57, or 5 percent, to $32.93, its biggest gain since 2011.

Energy companies gained ground as crude prices rose. Chinese oil producer CNOOC Ltd. advanced 2.4 percent. Chevron picked up 2.3 percent and Exxon Mobil added 1.3 percent. Oil field services companies Halliburton and Baker Hughes also traded higher after the U.S. government sued to block their $34 billion plan to combine.

Minutes of the March 15-16 meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s board showed members split over how to respond to slowing global growth. The Fed ended up voting 9-1 to leave its key rate unchanged. Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said the minutes showed a clear split over how fast inflation will rise toward the Fed’s 2 percent target and how badly global weakness may hurt the economy.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 41 cents to $38.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract soared $1.86 on Wednesday to close at $37.75. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 35 cents to $40.18 in London. It jumped $1.97 the previous session to $39.84.

The dollar weakened to 108.84 yen from Wednesday’s 109.16 yen. The euro rose to $1.1423 from $1.1400.