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Asia: Stock futures mixed after muted rally with oil below US$36

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Index futures indicated a mixed day for Asian stocks as investors pause to catch their breath following the tumultuous start to the new year. Oil was back below US$36 a barrel.

[WELLINGTON] Index futures indicated a mixed day for Asian stocks as investors pause to catch their breath following the tumultuous start to the new year. Oil was back below US$36 a barrel.

While New Zealand stocks rallied at the start of trading Wednesday, futures on equity indexes in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong foreshadowed moves of less than 0.2 per cent as US stocks followed up on Monday's selloff with a mild rally.

Chinese stock-exchange-traded funds in the US rebounded on news the country intervened to stabilise local markets, while the yen held near a two-month high amid lingering demand for haven assets.

The euro maintained losses on signs of disinflation in Europe.

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Market voices on:

"While we haven't seen a snap-back rally, the flat moves in US and European markets means we can stop to catch our breath," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Ltd in Melbourne, said in an e-mail to clients.

"Watch Chinese equities again today as price action has been wild and despite talk last year that the so-called National Team were not going to directly intervene in the stock market, this idea seems to have reversed."

China's CSI 300 Index ended last session up 0.3 per cent after sliding 7 per cent the day before, a move that triggered a trading halt via a newly introduced circuit breaker.

The modest recovery in global equities was sparked by Chinese government funds acting to arrest the selloff locally by propping up share prices, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified as the buying wasn't publicly disclosed. As the US diverges from other central banks in tightening monetary policy, attention remains on China amid concern the ongoing slowdown there will drag further on global growth.

STOCKS

New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index, the first major equity gauge to start trading in the Asian region each day, added 0.3 per cent as of 7.55am Tokyo time, after slipping 0.7 per cent on Tuesday, its first day of trading for 2016.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index opened 0.1 per cent higher following a 1.6 per cent slump in the gauge last session, while futures on South Korea's Kospi index and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index in Hong Kong rose 0.1 per cent in most recent trading. Hang Seng Index contracts were unchanged.

In Japan, futures on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average were down 0.1 per cent in Osaka, with yen-denominated contracts rising 0.6 per cent in Chicago to 18,395 during the US day. Japan's currency, the best performer among the majors on Tuesday, was little changed at 119.07 per dollar after jumping to as strong as 118.70 on Monday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 0.2 per cent Tuesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1 per cent amid a retreat in Apple Inc. The world's most valuable company slipped to its lowest level since October on a report that it may reduce production of an iPhone model.

A swathe of services data for China, Japan, Australia and India is due Wednesday, along with consumer prices out of Taiwan and Korean foreign direct investment.

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