Asian shares mixed on oil's drop; Australia earnings in focus

Asian markets traded mixed on Wednesday, as a drop in oil prices and a mixed reaction to a slew of earnings in Sydney offset an inspiring lead from Wall Street. Meanwhile, brewing uncertainty about a resolution to the Greek debt crisis continued to sap risk appetite.

Brent crude and WTI prices slipped on Tuesday after the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that oil prices may decline as oil stocks held by countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development continue to increase. U.S. crude futures closed down $2.84 at $50.02 a barrel, while Brent crude fell about $2 to $56 a barrel, ending a three-day rally.

Overnight, U.S. stocks finished higher on hopes of a resolution in the Greek debt negotiations, as well as better-than-expected revenues from Coca-Cola.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.8 percent, with Coca-Cola leading gains after posting earnings of an adjusted 44 cents per share for the fourth quarter, two cents above estimates. The S&P 500 added 1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished 1.3 percent higher.

Japanese markets are shut for a public holiday on Wednesday.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Mainland indices mixed

China's Shanghai Composite index closed up 0.5 percent after the central bank vowed to support economic growth, and as markets digested news of a reshuffle in the senior positions at China's central bank. According to local media reports, two of the four deputy governors at the People's Bank of China will be replaced in the coming months.

CITIC Securities will seek a legal solution for repayment from the issuer of one of its wealth management products that is in danger of default, the company said Tuesday. Shares of the country's top brokerage underperformed the sector to settle 0.7 percent lower.

China Shenhua Energy elevated 0.4 percent in Shanghai, but fell 1.7 percent in Hong Kong, following news that its coal sales in 2014 fell 12.4 percent from a year earlier due to slowing demand and production cuts.

Hong Kong equities receded 0.8 percent to a one-week low, with financials weighing on the bourse. Standard Chartered tanked 2.2 percent, while Bank of China and China Minsheng Bank shed 0.7 and 0.6 percent each. Shares of HSBC remained dismal, down 2.3 percent, after news that the British banking giant helped more than 100,000 wealthy individuals avoid paying tax.

ASX falls 0.5%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index fell for the third consecutive session as declining oil majors weighed on the bourse and as traders remained cautious into the earnings season.

Woodside Petroleum and Santos closed down more than 3 percent, respectively, in tandem with lower energy prices overnight.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia - the country's number one lender by market value - retreated 0.8 percent despite announcing an 8 percent rise in first half cash profit. Improved half year profits also failed to lift shares of insurer Suncorp Group and building materials maker Boral, which dropped 2.9 and 1.2 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, blood plasma products maker CSL plunged 8 percent on the back of a muted profit outlook.

There were a few isolated rallies following upbeat earnings report; Property firm Stockland advanced 2.8 percent after its net profit rose 55 percent in the half year to December 31, but the day's top performer was Domino's Pizza, whose shares closed up 22 percent after reporting a 44.2 percent rise in first half profits.

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Kospi adds 0.5%

South Korea's Kospi index edged up on Wednesday, recovering from Tuesday's two-week closing low, as major tech names traded higher.

SK Hynix climbed nearly 4 percent on bargain-hunting, while Samsung SDI and LG Display gained 1.1 and 1.7 percent each. But a 1.7 percent drop in the heaviest weighted stock Samsung Electronics capped advances.

Meanwhile, Asiana Airlines, which is the news for announcing plans to purchase 25 airplanes from Airbus for $2.83 billion, rose 8.1 percent, while Korean Air notched up nearly 2 percent.

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Indian markets up

India's Nifty and Sensex indexes advanced, a day after anti-corruption party Aam Aadmi trounced Prime Minister Narendra Modi's governing party in local elections in New Delhi.