Asia Markets

Asian shares close mixed as US oil tops $70

Key Points
  • Asian stocks closed mixed, with mainland China markets outperforming.
  • U.S. oil prices topped the $70 per barrel mark for the first time since November 2014.
  • The greenback was slightly firmer against a basket of currencies.
  • Investors digested U.S. jobs numbers and last week's U.S.-China trade talks.

Asian markets closed mixed on Monday as investors digested trade concerns and U.S. jobs numbers, while U.S. crude topped the $70 mark for the first time since 2014 during late morning trade.

The benchmark ended the day little changed: The index finished lower by 0.03 percent at 22,467.16, off its session low of 22,350.91. The Topix finished higher by 0.09 percent as gains in the steel and oil subindexes were mostly balanced by losses in the financial sector.

Over in Hong Kong, the gave up gains seen earlier to slip 0.1 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN as the property and tech sectors, two of the three most heavily weighted sectors on the index, dipped back into negative territory. Energy stocks were up 2 percent before the market close, with CNOOC gaining 2.6 percent.

Mainland stock indexes advanced, leading gains in the region for the day, with the rising 1.48 percent to 3,136.63 and the smaller Shenzhen composite adding 1.85 percent to close at 1,822.18.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 tacked on 0.36 percent to close at 6,084.50 amid broad-based gains, with energy and materials names leading the advance.

MSCI's broad index of shares in Asia Pacific, meanwhile, was up 0.09 percent in Asia afternoon trade. Markets in South Korea were closed for a holiday.

US oil tops $70

Oil prices extended gains after settling about 2 percent higher in the last session. Gains on Monday came as markets focused on both the possibility of the U.S. re-imposing sanctions against Iran and an economic crisis in Venezuela.

Re-introducing sanctions on Iran, which is currently the third-largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, could result in as many as 1 million barrels of Iranian crude supply being cut a day.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1 percent to $70.42 per barrel, trading above the $70 level for the first time since November 2014. Brent crude futures advanced 0.92 percent to $75.56.

"While U.S. President Donald Trump refuses to reveal his decision on whether he will ratify the deal before May 12, the U.S. administration appears to be positioning itself for negotiations for a new deal," said ANZ analysts in a morning note.

The mixed performance in Asian markets came after U.S. stocks notched strong gains on Friday despite a mixed jobs report, with Apple getting a boost following news that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway had bought 75 million shares in the tech company in the first quarter.

Investors also digested the release of April nonfarm payrolls, which rose by 164,000. That was below the 192,000 figure forecast by economists in a Reuters poll, but U.S. unemployment dropped to an 18-year low of 3.9 percent.

Markets in Asia had closed in negative territory in the last session amid concerns over U.S.-China trade talks, which the two countries agreed to continue after the end of a two-day meeting last week.

"Global risk appetite may continue to part ways amid a stalemate in the U.S.-China trade talks," OCBC Bank said in a note.

In currencies, the dollar continued to firm after finishing last week broadly higher. The dollar index, which tracks the dollar against six currencies, traded at 92.693 at 2:47 p.m. HK/SIN.

Some emerging market currencies took a beating last week on the back of recent strength in the greenback, with the Argentinean peso falling more than 6 percent last week.

Against the safe-haven yen, the dollar firmed as the session progressed, last trading at 109.21 after earlier slipping below the 109 level in Asia morning trade.

On the corporate front, Singapore's second-largest bank by total assets, OCBC, reported net profit after tax for the first quarter rose 29 percent to 1.11 billion Singapore dollars ($833 million), missing an average Thomson Reuters forecast of S$1.18 billion. Shares declined 3 percent by 2:50 p.m. HK/SIN.

Elsewhere, Australia's Westpac announced Monday that its first-half cash earnings rose 6 percent to 4.2 billion Australian dollars ($3.2 billion), above the A$4.17 billion forecast in a Reuters poll. Westpac shares pared steeper gains seen in the morning to close higher by 0.82 percent.