Asian stocks mostly weaker as oil slips

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Asian stock markets were mostly weaker on Tuesday as the price of crude oil turned lower following a surge overnight.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 drifted 0.2 per cent lower to 16,074.71 while South Korea's Kospi was 0.2 per cent lower to 1,912.71. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.6 per cent to 19,346.46 and Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China dropped 1.3 per cent to 2,890.29. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.4 per cent to 4,983.90. Stocks in Singapore and the Philippines were higher but stocks in Taiwan and Indonesia were lower.

ENERGY FORECAST: On Monday, the International Energy Agency said it does not expect oil prices to recover significantly until 2017, but it expects slower growth in global supplies. Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said oil would rise gradually to about $80 a barrel. The comments by the group of major oil-importing countries triggered a surge in crude oil prices and rallies in global stock markets overnight but they could not be sustained.

ANALYST'S TAKE: Despite the forecast that the glut of crude will be gradually reduced, "we remain cautious at this juncture, since so far, Iran and Iraq remained non-committal in terms of production cuts though both countries welcomed the initiative," Mizuho Bank said in a daily commentary.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 53 cents or 1.6 per cent at $32.86 per barrel in New York. On Monday the contract jumped $1.56 to close at $33.39 a barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 50 cents to $34.19 per barrel in London.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks jumped on Monday as a surge in the price of oil lifted energy stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.4 per cent to 16,620.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 1.5 per cent to 1,945.50. The Nasdaq composite index added 1.5 per cent to 4,570.61.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 112.10 yen from 112.89 yen while the euro rose to $1.105 from $1.103.


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