Asian shares retraced some early gains Wednesday to close mixed, with South Korea and Hong Kong falling into the red, while the Australia and Shanghai markets ended on a positive note. The Japan market finished its final trading day of the year in positive territory as the Nikkei registered a yearly gain of 9.27 percent.
Oil prices saw some respite overnight during U.S. trading hours, with both U.S. crude's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and the global benchmark Brent futures rising over 2.5 percent each.
Oil's overnight rally was driven in part by expectations for U.S. crude inventories to continue falling, Vishnu Varathan, an analyst at Mizuho Bank in Singapore, said in a note Wednesday. But he added, "Certainly, the big picture of sustained softness on oil prices has not dramatically changed overnight. So, technical adjustment has aspects of 'window-dressing.'"
In corporate news, credit ratings agency Moody's has cut Noble Group's rating to junk status on liquidity concerns, capping a year of troubles for the Hong Kong-based commodities trader. The rating cut will likely increase Noble's borrowing costs and will make it harder for the company to refinance debt to shore up its finances. Noble shares fell as much as 8 percent in Singapore.