MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly down Thursday after a sell-off in energy companies due to lower oil prices pulled down U.S. stocks overnight, and with regional volumes affected by the closure of Japan’s stock exchange for a holiday.
KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was nearly flat at 22,489 after shifting between gains and losses. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 fell nearly 1 percent at 5,490.60. China’s Shanghai Composite index 0.1 percent down at 3,015.16. South Korea’s KOSPI slid 0.3 percent to 2,038.73 following the South Korean central bank’s decision to maintain its monetary police rate. New Zealand’s NZE50 index was down less than 0.1 percent at 7,346.64 after New Zealand’s central bank lowered official interest rates by a quarter point to 2 percent, disappointing some investors looking for a more aggressive cut. Southeast Asian markets were mixed.
WALL STREET: 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.
ANALYST QUOTE: “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.”
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 26 cents to $41.45 after closing at $41.71 a barrel in New York Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 25 cents to $43.80 in London from $44.05.
CURRENCIES: In currency markets, the dollar weakened to 101.19 yen from 101.20 on Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.1180 from $1.185.