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Asia stocks mostly advance; oil prices continue gaining on highs

Key Points
  • Stocks in Asia were mostly higher.
  • In the afternoon of Asian trading hours on Tuesday, crude prices continued to advance following their Monday gains.

Stocks in Asia were mostly higher on Tuesday as investors watched developments such as the renewed conflict in key oil producing nation Libya.

Mainland Chinese shares were mixed on the day, with the Shanghai composite slipping 0.16 percent to close at 3,239.66 and the Shenzhen component rising around 0.82 percent to 10,436.62. The Shenzhen composite advanced 0.724 percent to 1,783.01.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.17 percent in its final hour of trade, as shares of Chinese tech giant Tencent gained more than 0.5 percent.

The broad MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was 0.31 percent higher at 542.93, as of 3:37 p.m. HK/SIN.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.19 percent higher at 21,802.59 as shares of index heavyweight Fanuc gained 2.26 percent. The Topix index, however slipped fractionally to finish at 1,618.76.

South Korea's Kospi gained 0.13 percent to close at 2,213.56.

Over in Australia, however, the closed largely flat at 6,221.80. Crown Resorts shares Down Under surged 19.68 percent on news that the Australian casino operator is in talks with Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts for a potential $7.1 billion buyout.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.975 after declining from levels above 97.2 yesterday.

The Japanese yen traded at 111.31 against the dollar after touching an earlier low of 111.57, while the Australian dollar was at $0.7143 after bouncing from lows below $0.711 yesterday.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

Oil prices jump amid Libyan conflict

Oil prices scaled new 2019 highs on Monday, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract adding 1.1 percent to settle at $71.10 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also rose 2.1 percent to settle at $64.40 per barrel.

In the afternoon of Asian trading hours on Tuesday, crude prices continued to advance as Brent rose marginally to $71.14 per barrel and U.S. crude futures gained 0.2 percent to $64.53 per barrel.

Oil stocks in Australia gained amid the rise in crude prices, as Santos jumped 2.93 percent and Beach Energy surged 5.45 percent.

The moves in oil prices came amid a recent resurgence in conflict in Libya, a key oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"The main feature of what has to be said are pretty soporific global financial markets at the start of the week and ahead of some key event risk(s) on Wednesday has been a further jump in oil prices," Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank, wrote in a morning note.

"Fear of fresh supply outages from Libya are said to be responsible as 'warlord' Khalifa Haftar moves his self-styled Libyan National Army forces towards the capital Tripoli, base of the UN recognised government of PM Fayez al-Sarraj," Attrill said, citing recent reports of air strikes on the Tripoli airport.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

Correction: This article was updated to reflect that oil prices touched new 2019 highs on Monday.