Asia Markets

Asia stocks mixed as rout in oil markets worsens

Key Points
  • Shares in Asia were mixed on Wednesday.
  • In the oil markets, international Brent crude futures plunged 13.14% to $16.79 per barrel, having plunged from levels above $24 per barrel on Tuesday.
  • Meanwhile, the June contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) declined further as it dropped 8.73% to $10.56 per barrel, after falling more than 40% on Tuesday. U.S. crude prices have seen sharp losses in recent days.

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Wednesday as oil prices continued to see weakness.

Mainland Chinese stocks edged higher on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.6% to about 2,843.98 while the Shenzhen composite jumped 1.048% to approximately 1,771.80. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 0.36% higher, as of its final hour of trading.

South Korea's Kospi also edged 0.89% higher to close at 1,896.15. Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 finished its trading day flat at 5,221.20.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.74% to close at 19,137.95 while the Topix index slipped 0.63% to end its trading day at 1,406.90.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 0.58%.

Oil prices continue to plunge

In oil markets, international Brent crude futures plunged 13.14% to $16.79 per barrel, having declined from levels above $24 per barrel on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the June contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) declined further as it dropped 8.73% to $10.56 per barrel, after falling more than 40% on Tuesday.

U.S. crude prices have seen sharp losses in recent days. The May contract for WTI — which expired Tuesday — slid into negative prices earlier this week, meaning traders would pay for others to take the oil off their hands. The May contract clawed back into the black on Tuesday.

"The oil reality check has triggered a reassessment across risk assets," Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign exchange strategist at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

Kapstream Capital Managing Director Steve Goldman told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday that it's "not surprising" that near-term contracts for oil are "going to be very, very cheap."

"This is going to last longer than what markets are currently anticipating and that's mainly because the global economy is unlikely to get back online as quickly as markets … are hoping," Goldman said. "I think that's going to be the real driver of oil prices … over the coming months."

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 100.086 after seeing levels below 99.5 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.59 per dollar after touching an earlier low of 107.86. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6331 following a decline from levels above $0.635 seen earlier this week.