Asia Markets

Asia-Pacific stocks mixed as sentiment remains cautious on coronavirus risk; oil prices fall

Key Points
  • Oil prices fell in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 2.26% to $40.27 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also dropped 2.88% to $38.43 per barrel.
  • Australia's consumer price index rose 1.6% in the September quarter as compared to the previous quarter, according to data released Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  • Investor sentiment on Wednesday was likely impacted by the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S.

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Wednesday as coronavirus infections continue to rise stateside, while oil prices dropped.

Shares in mainland China were higher on the day, with the Shanghai composite up 0.46% to around 3,269.24 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.893% to about 13,388.10.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dipped 0.3%, as of its final hour of trading.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 shed 0.29% to close at 23,418.51 while the Topix index finished its trading day 0.31% lower at 1,612.55. South Korea's Kospi closed 0.62% higher at 2,345.26.

Shares in Australia were higher, as the S&P/ASX 200 added 0.11% to close at 6,057.70.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.07% lower.

Oil prices fell in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 2.26% to $40.27 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also dropped 2.88% to $38.43 per barrel.

On the economic data front, Australia's consumer price index rose 1.6% in the September quarter as compared to the previous quarter, according to data released Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The rise in the September quarter followed a "record fall" of 1.9% in the June 2020 quarter, according to the ABS.

Following that data release, the Australian dollar traded at $0.7139, following an earlier low of $0.7111.

Investor sentiment on Wednesday was likely impacted by the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S.

"Markets remain in a cautious mood given rising hospitalisation rates may require tougher restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19 and ensure hospitals do not become overwhelmed," Tapas Strickland, director of economics at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, sat at 93.119 after seeing levels around 92.8 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 104.18 per dollar, having strengthened from levels around 105 against the greenback this week.