Asian stocks waver despite oil output pact

TOKYO - Shares were higher in Europe on Wednesday as oil prices stabilized and strong earnings reports from French bank Credit Agricole and Germany's Schneider Electric helped boost sentiment.

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Asian markets were mixed.

KEEPING SCORE: In early European trading, Germany's DAX rose 0.7 percent to 9,197.27 and Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.7 percent at 5,905.19. The CAC 40 of France gained 0.7 percent to 4,138.30. Wall Street looked set for gains. Dow and S&P 500 futures were both up 0.3 percent.

OIL DEAL: Oil prices stabilized after a wild day on Tuesday, as investors weighed the possible impact of a Russia-Saudi accord that will only take effect if other OPEC nations agree to it. Analysts say Iran probably won't sign on because it wants to raise output following its period of sanctions. The slump in oil prices has been one factor unnerving stock markets recently as a sign of weak global demand.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "The accord, on face value, suggests more can and will be done over the coming months. However, the current agreement will have little impact on oil markets and there are glaring holes in what has been announced," market strategist Evan Lucas of IG said in a commentary. "The market clearly also believes that this is an accord to nowhere."

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.4 percent to 15,836.36 as investors shrugged off data showing strong machinery orders in January. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.0 percent to 18,924.57 while the Shanghai Composite rose 1.1 percent to 2,867.34. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6 percent to 4,882.10 and South Korea's Kospi shed 0.2 percent to 1,883.94. Markets rose in Indonesia, Taiwan and New Zealand and fell in Singapore, Thailand and India.

ENERGY: U.S. crude rose 10 cents to $29.13 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 40 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $29.04 a barrel in New York on Tuesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, added 25 cents to $32.42 a barrel. On Tuesday it lost $1.21, or 3.6 percent, to $32.18 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 113.88 yen from 114.23 yen the previous day. The euro rose to $1.1160 from $1.1127.


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