Asia Markets: Asian shares mostly up as crude, ruble stabilize
Asian stocks were mostly higher Monday, taking their cues from greater stability in crude oil prices and the Russian ruble, along with the Federal Reserve’s indication it will take a slow approach to raising interest rates.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +1.94% was up 1.5% to 5420.90 and the Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +1.61% up 1.2% at 3144.61 as concerns eased over further instability in global market conditions. Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.02% treaded above and below the break-even level, a possible indication that it may be difficult to retain upward momentum after three consecutive gaining sessions in Tokyo last week. At midday, it had edged higher to 17621.66 amid thin trading.
While the Federal Reserve last week broached the prospect of “beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy,” it said it would be “patient” before raising rates in a move expected to come around the middle of next year. That helped lift stocks in the U.S. and elsewhere, pushing up the S&P 500 just shy of a fresh closing record Friday.
“We won’t see a rate increase at least until April. The rate rise isn’t imminent. We’ve got some time,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management.
Hideyuki Ishiguro, senior strategist for investment strategy at Okasan Securities, said comments from Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen helped restore some stability in the markets.
U.S. and global oil benchmarks jumped to their largest percentage gains in more than two years Friday. The Russian ruble RUBUSD, +1.53% recovered some ground to 58.80 per dollar, although it is down some 50% against the dollar this year.
BHP Billiton Ltd. BHP, +2.97% which has both energy and mining interests, was up 2.4%. “The rebound in oil and iron ore will be key for the local (Australian) market as investors look for some bargains in the resource space,” said Stan Shamu, a strategist at broker IG.
Among individual stock movers in Japan, Idemitsu Kosan Co. 5019, +2.96% up 4.8% at ¥2,123 following news of a potential buyout of Showa Shell Sekiyu 5002, +27.94% , which surged 26% to ¥1,281. Japan’s second-biggest oil refiner and distributor said Saturday it is in talks to buy industry peer Showa Shell as falling domestic oil demand pinches the margins of wholesalers.
Taiwan shares Y9999, +1.06% were 0.9% higher on a rosy outlook for tech companies in the coming quarter as many big names are expected to roll out new products. Smartphone maker HTC Corp. 2498, +3.41% gained 2.3% while Acer Inc. 2353, +2.91% was up 1.9%.