Thursday 03.07 BST
Markets in Asia edged higher on Thursday as a stabilising oil price helped investors look past declines on Wall Street.
Oil prices were slightly higher in Asia, eyeing their first gain in four sessions. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 0.2 per cent at $44.92 a barrel, recovering from a 2.6 per cent tumble on Wednesday that took it below $45 for the first time since November.
West Texas Intermediate was up 0.3 per cent at $42.64. Both markers found themselves in bear markets on Wednesday, defined as a drop of 20 per cent or more from a recent high.
Oil-related stocks around Asia were putting in a mixed performance. Australia’s energy sector was up 0.5 per cent but its Japanese counterparts were down 1.1 per cent — the worst performing group in the region.
Japan’s Topix benchmark was flat overall, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 benchmark added 0.6 per cent after on Wednesday suffering its biggest one-day fall since the US presidential election.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat, while mainland Chinese stocks gained for a second day following MSCI’s decision to include them in the index provider’s flagship emerging market equity index.
Japan’s yen was the best performer among major currencies, up 0.33 per cent to ¥110.97 per dollar.
Also strong was the New Zealand dollar, adding 0.3 per cent to $0.7249 against its US counterpart as the country’s central bank held interest rates steady on Thursday and surprised the market by adopting a less dovish tone than expected.
The British pound was the poorest performer among major currencies but at $1.2665, had steadied after Wednesday’s nine-month low at $1.2596 — the result of diverging commentaries from Bank of England policymakers.
The US dollar index was down 0.1 per cent at 97.488.
Gold was up 0.6 per cent at $1,253.95 an ounce and eyeing its first back-to-back gain in a fortnight. The yellow metal ended up a five-day losing streak on Wednesday.
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