Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Stocks End Mixed, Oil Keeps Resources Firm

Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday with some markets reversing earlier advances. Resource firms, helped by record high oil prices and rising metal prices managed to hang on to their gains.

Red hot oil prices boosted resource shares around the region. Japan's Inpex Holdings finished 13 percent. Nippon Oil and Sumintomo Metal Mining also made sharp gains. Australian mining stocks benefitted with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Newcrest Mining all climbing.

Oil shot to a record above $122 a barrel on supply worries and the weak U.S. dollar, extending a rally that has doubled prices over the past year and has some experts forecasting a potential
spike to $200. U.S. crude settled up $1.87 at $121.84 a barrel in the New York session, after touching a record $122.73 earlier. London Brent crude gained $2.32 to $120.31 a barrel, after hitting a record $120.99.

Wall Street rose Tuesday after home finance firm Fannie Mae said the worst of the credit market turmoil erupting from the real estate sector may have passed. The comments buoyed U.S. financial shares.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average closed up 0.4 percent at a four-month closing high as
resource-related shares and trading houses like Mitsubishi Corp jumped on record high oil prices. The market rose sharply at the start of trade following a four-day weekend but briefly slipped into negative territory in the afternoon as investors were quick to pocket profits. Shares in Yahoo Japan, owned one-third by Yahoo, fell over 3 percent after Microsoft withdrew a $47.5 billion offer for the U.S. Internet company.

South Korea's KOSPI closed down 0.3 percent, ending a three-day winning streak that lifted the index to a series of four-month highs, as record oil prices fanned worries about inflation and corporate profits. 

Australian shares fell 0.6 percent, dragged down by banks on concerns over the health of global financial institutions, though resource firms gained on higher metals and oil prices.

Hong Kong stocks reversed an early rise to fall 2.5 percent, weighed down by oil refiners Sinopec and PetroChina after crude prices hit another record high. Sectors sensitive to high fuel costs, such as airlines, also fell. Flag carrier Air China, China Southern and China Eastern all declined. Cathay Pacific tumbled more than 3 percent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index swung into negative territory to close 0.9 percent lower. Shares of DBS Group rose initially after the bank posted a less-than-feared 2 percent fall in its first-quarter profit. Bank counters including DBS are now on the decline.

China's Shanghai Composite Index index fell more than 4 percent, led by banking and property shares, as uncertainty over the economic outlook continued to worry investors.   Bank of Communications was lower. 13.2 billion shares in the bank will become tradable on May 16.