Japan Leads Asian Shares Higher, Oil Prices Steady

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -
A currency trader works at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Asian shares rose Thursday, led by Japan, while oil prices were steady despite a second straight day of overnight losses on Wall Street. Analysts said that despite the rebound it was too early to say risk sentiment was back. Apart from persisting worries over prospects for a U.S. tax overhaul and doubts over the pace of rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, market-moving news was scarce.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.5 percent to 22,351.12, snapping a six-session losing streak. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.6 percent to 2,533.58. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.8 percent to 29,079.83. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 percent to 5,943.50, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.1 percent to 3,399.25. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

While the Federal Reserve’s rate hike in December is “a done deal,” Rob Carnell, head of research, Asia, at ING, said in a daily commentary that the latest share price declines and lower commodity prices “raise worries about growth and the pace of tightening in 2018.”

Analysts said strong U.S. retail sales data and consumer prices released Wednesday gave a green light to the Fed to raise rates next month. U.S. retail sales rose 0.2 percent in October, a healthy rate, and consumer prices rose 0.1 percent last month.

Crude oil prices eked out a tiny gain. Benchmark U.S. crude added 1 cent to $55.34 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 37 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $55.33 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 16 cents to $62.03 per barrel in London. It lost 34 cents, or 0.5 percent, to close at $61.87 a barrel on Wednesday.

The dollar rose to 113.20 yen from 112.84 yen while the euro sank to $1.1782 from $1.1790.