Asia ends higher; oil reverses losses, while gaming shares advance

Most markets in Asia rose on Tuesday, as oil prices advanced and gaming shares across the region retraced much of Monday's losses.

Shares of Crown Resorts — one of Australia's biggest casino companies — closed up 1.70 percent at 11.34 Australian dollars, after falling 13.90 percent in the previous session, which dragged other gaming stocks in the region on Monday.

Monday's drop followed reports that 18 of Crown's employees, including the executive vice president of the VIP international business, Jason O'Connor, were detained by Chinese authorities.

China's Foreign Ministry told CNBC on Monday in an emailed statement that Australian nationals were under criminal detention by the Chinese authorities for their "suspected involvements in gambling crimes." Later in the day, in a press conference, the foreign ministry's spokesperson explained further the employees were detained by the Shanghai police under gambling charges on October 14.

The spokesperson added the Australian Consulate General in Shanghai was notified.

On Tuesday Crown's majority owner, billionaire James Packer, said he was deeply concerned for the workers, while Reuters reported that Australian consular officials in Shanghai were making arrangements to visit them in detention.

Casinos cannot advertise in China and promoting gambling in other ways, such as advertising resort facilities or offering credit to high-spending clients, can also be problematic, Reuters said.

Hong Kong-listed gaming shares also advanced on Tuesday, after Monday's declines. Wynn Macau shares were up 3.83 percent in late-afternoon trade, Melco International added 3.66 percent and Galaxy Entertainment was higher by 3.24 percent.

Shares of Crown rival Star Entertainment, however, closed down 0.54 percent on Tuesday.

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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Oil prices climbed on Tuesday during Asian hours, after falling on Monday, giving some energy stocks a leg up.

Global benchmark Brent added 0.89 percent to $51.98 a barrel by 3:23 p.m. HK/SIN, after slipping 0.8 percent in the U.S. session, while U.S. crude futures rose 0.88 percent to $50.38, following a 0.8 percent drop overnight.

Energy plays in the region were mixed, with Santos shares closing up 1.10 percent, Oil Search higher by 1.13 percent and South Korea's S-Oil higher by 1.97 percent. Hong Kong-listed shares of CNOOC were up 2.34 percent as of 3:24 p.m. HK/SIN, while Sinopec was higher by 2.11 percent. On the other hand, shares of Japan's Inpex fell 0.81 percent, while Japan Petroleum was down 0.72 percent.

In Japan, shares erased early losses to end higher, despite the relative strength in the yen. The benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 63.49 points, or 0.38 percent, to close at 16,963.61, erasing earlier losses of 0.2 percent. The Topix index ended up 4.01 points, or 0.30 percent, at 1,356.57.

Fast Retailing shares, which are heavily weighted in the Nikkei index, added 2.02 percent, likely offsetting losses.

The Japanese yen weakened in the afternoon session, trading at 104.05 against the dollar as of 3:27 p.m. HK/SIN, after reaching an earlier session high of 103.65, which had pressured some export stocks.

Major exporters closed mostly higher; Honda retraced losses of more than 0.5 percent from early trade to rise 0.72 percent, while Nissan gained 0.31 percent. Sony shares climbed 1.34 percent, while Sharp advanced 1.44 percent. Toyota shares, on the other hand, closed down 0.66 percent.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi added 12.82 points, or 0.63 percent, to 2,040.43. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 1.48 percent in late-afternoon trade. Chinese mainland shares closed higher, with the Shanghai composite up 41.92 points, or 1.38 percent, at 3,083.08, while the Shenzhen composite gained 29.03 points, or 1.43 percent, to 2,056.59.

In Australia, the ASX 200 closed up 22.12 points, or 0.41 percent, at 5,410.80, with the energy sector retracing losses of nearly 0.5 percent to finish flat. The heavily-weighted financial sector closed up 0.44 percent.

New Zealand's main NZX 50 index, however, closed down 93.28 points, or 1.32 percent, at 6,973.09, following government data that showed prices in the country rose more than expected.

Hiroshi Watanabe | Getty Images

Data from Statistics New Zealand showed the consumer price index (CPI) was up 0.2 percent on-quarter in the third quarter, while economists polled by Reuters had expected the CPI to remain unchanged. The annual inflation rate came in at 0.2 percent, compared with 0.4 percent in the previous quarter.

ANZ's senior economist, Philip Borkin, said in a Tuesday note that the September quarter print was not far from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's (RBNZ) expectations and that it will not "stand in the way of [RBNZ] cutting the official cash rate again" in November.

The inflation reading pushed the New Zealand dollar to a session high of $0.7198, from levels as low as $0.7124 before the release.

In the broader currency market, the dollar also eased against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index trading at 97.73 as of 3:36 p.m. HK/SIN. By comparison, the index traded as high as 98.17 during Asian hours on Monday.

Analysts pointed to a softer U.S. manufacturing sector report behind the dollar weakness.

The Empire State index, which measures manufacturing activity in New York state and is released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, slipped to its lowest level since May, with the October reading coming in at -6.8. Anything below zero indicates a contraction.

Singapore's DBS Bank analysts, however, added in a morning note that the dollar "retreated on belief that the Fed would go slow on rate hikes for now."

Last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested the Fed may want to run a "high-pressure economy" with low interest rates.

The dollar weakness saw the Australian dollar trade higher at $0.7686 on Tuesday evening local time, compared with levels below $0.7600 in the previous session.

Earlier in the day, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe spoke at an investment conference, where he outlined the reasons for low inflation globally including excess capacity, perceptions of reduced pricing power and commodity prices. He added that the RBA's monetary policy framework allowed for flexible inflation targeting.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 51.98 points, or 0.29 percent, to 18,086.4 on Monday. The S&P 500 fell 6.48 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,126.5, while the Nasdaq slipped 14.34 points, or 0.27 percent, to 5,199.82.

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