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Asia: Market rally fizzles on oil price retreat

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - 15:51
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Most major Asia-Pacific stock markets turned lower on Wednesday as another retreat in oil prices dented buying sentiment, but Tokyo ended on a high note as one of the best-performers of 2015.

[TOKYO] Most major Asia-Pacific stock markets turned lower on Wednesday as another retreat in oil prices dented buying sentiment, but Tokyo ended on a high note as one of the best-performers of 2015.

Regional selling picked up as crude resumed its decline ahead of closely watched US oil stockpiles and production data, keeping alive concerns about demand and the strength of the global economy.

"Risk sentiment is very much subject to crude oil prices," Hiroyuki Yamamuro, an analyst at Ueda Harlow, told Bloomberg News.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 0.41 per cent, while Shanghai lost early gains to slip 0.10 per cent in afternoon trading.

Seoul lost 0.25 per cent by the close, Singapore was down 0.36 per cent and Taiwan fell 0.17 per cent.

But Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 ticked up 0.27 per cent on Japan's last trading day of the year.

The index climbed more than nine percent in 2015 to rank among the world's top-performing major markets, outpacing most of its rivals in the US and Asia-Pacific.

Japan's financial markets will close Thursday and reopen on January 4 after the New Year's holiday.

Meanwhile, Sydney finished 1.00 per cent higher, Wellington closed up 0.43 per cent and Shenzhen gained 0.87 per cent.

"We'll keep on being moved by the oil price," said Chihiro Ohta, general manager of investment information at SMBC Nikko Securities.

"We'll have to keep being aware of this for the first three months or the first half of next year as well." The broad decline in Asia followed a tech-driven rally on Wall Street, where a brief rise in crude prices and upbeat US data lifted the mood.

Amazon closed at a new record of US$693.97, up 2.8 per cent, rising for a second day after Monday announcing record holiday sales of its premium delivery service.

Meanwhile, the US Conference Board's index of consumer confidence rose to 96.5 in December from 92.6 the prior month.

The report offered an upbeat view on the world's top economy following the Fed's interest rate hike announcement this month.

The Dow jumped 1.10 per cent on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 gained 1.06 per cent and the Nasdaq ended 1.33 per cent higher. European equities also rose.

AFP