Asian stocks were mixed Thursday after U.S. shares were pulled down overnight by a sell-off in energy companies due to lower oil prices and some disappointment over the New Zealand central bank’s interest rate cut. Regional volumes were affected by the closure of Japan’s stock exchange for a holiday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.7 percent at 22,651.24, after shifting between gains and losses in the morning. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent at 5,504.20. China’s Shanghai Composite index rose 0.2 percent at 3,023.26. South Korea’s KOSPI slid 0.3 percent to 2,038.72 following the South Korean central bank’s decision to keep monetary policy rate unchanged. New Zealand’s NZE50 index regained earlier losses, edging up less than 0.1 percent at 7,353.82, after the central bank’s quarter-point cut of interest rates to 2 percent failed to impress investors looking for a more aggressive move. Southeast Asian markets were mixed.
A sharp sell-off in energy companies pulled U.S. stock indexes modestly lower Wednesday, wiping out small gains from the day before. Another slide in crude oil prices weighed on the energy sector. Banking, health care and technology companies also declined, while consumer-focused stocks and phone companies posted gains. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 37.39 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,495.66. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index shed 6.25 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,175.49. The Nasdaq composite index lost 20.90 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,204.58.
In the absence of major economic news, in what is a seasonally slow period for the markets, investors have been monitoring company earnings for clues about how the second half of the year is shaping up for corporate America. A strong jobs report last Friday boosted investors’ confidence in the U.S. economy. Traders are looking ahead to Friday, when the government delivers its latest monthly retail sales figures.
“All eyes will now turn to Friday’s retail sales figures from the U.S., which could provide the market with some direction,” said Alex Furber, senior client services executive at CMC Markets. “Investors are currently weighing the low interest rate environment against high valuations.”
Benchmark U.S. crude fell 7 cents to $41.66 after closing at $41.71 a barrel in New York Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 9 cents to $43.95 in London from $44.05.
In currency markets, the dollar rose to 101.39 yen from 101.20 on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.1167 from $1.185.