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Asia markets mostly higher, as dollar weakens and oil prices rise more than 1%

Asian markets ended mostly higher, as oil prices jumped more than 1 percent and the dollar weakened, but one analyst warned that the rebound lacks conviction.

"Asia markets [saw] a technical rebound, but it not a strong one, given that political uncertainty in the U.S. and the plunge in crude oil prices are two bearish factors that will continue to weigh on market sentiment," Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets, told CNBC. "This technical rebound might not sustain for long."

The ASX 200 ended up 0.06 percent, or 3.39 points, at 5,225.6, underpinned by gains in its gold subindex, which was up 3.44 percent, and its energy subindex, which rose 0.72 percent.

South Korea's Kospi closed up 0.25 percent, or 4.86 points, at 1,983.8.

The fourth-largest Asian economyfaces multiple domestic challenges, including a shipping industry restructuring, natural disasters and a presidential crisis. After a cabinet reshuffle announced on Wednesday, the new finance minister designate Yim Jong-yong said he would keep macroeconomic policy accommodative in order to stabilize the economy, Reuters reported.

The Shanghai composite finished up 0.84 percent, or 25.94 points, at 3,128.67 while the Shenzhen composite ended up 0.56 percent, or 11.53 points, at 2,071.59. Before the Chinese markets' open, a Caixin PMI survey showed that service sector activity picked up strongly on-month in October to come in at 52.4. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in activity.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 0.19 percent by mid-afternoon.

Japanese markets are shut for the Culture Day pubic holiday. The Nikkei 225 last closed at 17,134.68.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 0.43 percent at 17,959.64, while the S&P 500 posted its seventh day of declines, finishing down 0.65 percent at 2,097.94. The Nasdaq composite closed 0.93 percent lower, to 5,105.57.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
---
KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady at 0.25-0.5 percent at its November meeting, but it also continued to acknowledge that the case for a hike was getting stronger.

"The Federal Reserve have effectively given the green light to a December rate hike, that is as long as we don't see a major disruptive event playing out between now and 14 December," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at spreadbetter IG, in a Thursday note.

Meanwhile, polls have shown that it's now a tighter race to the White House between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump, which is causing jitters in the market.

Oil futures rose in Asian trade, likely due to a softer dollar. U.S. crude futures were up 0.88 percent to $45.74 a barrel, after settling nearly 3 percent lower at $45.34 in the U.S., while Brent futures climbed 1.02 percent to $47.33 after settling at $46.86.

Crude prices were under pressure in the U.S. after the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed crude inventories rose 14.4 million barrels for the week ended October 28, significantly higher than the 1 million barrels a Reuters poll had forecast.

"The fact oil prices are in free fall will not help clarity here given the Fed's overnight statement was fairly upbeat around the recent rise in market based inflation expectations (the bond markets' inflation expectations over five years has increased from 1.44 percent in June to currently sit at 1.91 percent), but this move in inflation expectations was largely driven by a rally above $50," IG's Westin said.

Spot gold, often regarded as a safe haven asset, traded up 0.42 percent at $1,302.15 an ounce. Gold prices traded between $1,240 and $1,280 for most of October.

Australia-based real estate advertiser REA Group fell 3.75 percent to A$47.50, after Deutsche Bank cut its target price to A$49.50 from A$54, on the back of a weak property listing environment.

Shares in ANZ, one of Australia's "Big Four" banks, gained 0.63 percent to A$27.345. The lender reported that annual cash profit fell 18 percent on-year, missing a Reuters poll estimate of a a 15 percent decline.

ANZ also said it may sell its Australian insurance and wealth business to free up about A$5 billion ($3.82 billion) of capital. On Monday, Singapore's DBS announced it would acquire ANZ's retail banking and wealth management units in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Indonesia.

In currency markets, the dollar index continued its third consecutive session of declines at 97.087 by mid-afternoon in Asia, and fell against major Asian currencies.

The USD/JPY fell below 103, trading at 102.68 as of 3:06 pm HK/SIN. The currency pair was holding above 104 levels just last week. The Australian dollar strengthened against a softer dollar, at $0.7682, while the Korean won also rose to 1,138.43 against the greenback.

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