Asian stocks rise as oil tries to claw up from 10-month low

The Singapore Exchange signage is displayed inside the bourse's headquarters in Singapore.
The Singapore Exchange signage is displayed inside the bourse's headquarters in Singapore.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Asian stocks advanced on Thursday as oil prices struggled to climb off a 10-month low hit overnight on concerns over a supply glut and falling demand.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.3 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei fell 0.1 per cent, with shares in auto air bag maker Takata Corp plunging 50 per cent as they exchanged hands for the first time since sources said last week it was preparing to file for bankruptcy.

South Korea's KOSPI added 0.2 per cent, while Australian shares jumped 0.6 per cent.

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Singapore shares opened higher on Thursday (June 22), with the benchmark Straits Times Index at 3,205.32 in early trade, up 0.11 per cent, or 3.55 points.

Chinese shares added to gains made on Wednesday after MSCI included mainland shares in its emerging market indexes. The blue-chip index rose 0.4 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was flat.

Crude oil crept up from multi-month lows hit on Wednesday after data showed a drop in US inventories, but gains were capped as investors fretted about whether Opec-led output cuts would dent a three-year glut. "The time for contrarian trades in oil is fast approaching, but I would want to see some stability in price and the technicals start to become more convincing," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne.

US crude futures rose 0.1 per cent, or 5 cents, to US$42.58 (S$59.1) a barrel. They closed down 1.6 per cent on Wednesday after touching their lowest level since August.

Brent climbed less than 0.1 per cent, or 3 cents, to US$44.85. It closed down 2.6 per cent on Wednesday after touching a seven-month low. The resulting decline in oil shares hit indexes in Europe and on Wall Street overnight.

Britain's FTSE, Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 closed between 0.3 per cent and 0.4 per cent lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.3 per cent, while the S&P 500 was slightly lower. Nasdaq closed up 0.7 per cent, lifted by biotech stocks.

Financial stocks also contributed to losses on Wall Street, driven lower by a drop in the Treasury yield curve to its flattest in almost a decade, as investors tried to reconcile a hawkish Federal Reserve with deteriorating inflation measures.

Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren and Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer suggested they are concerned less about raising rates too fast or too high than about keeping them too low for too long.

"I think the market may be pricing in a little higher odds of another rate hike before the end of the year, and that is helping drive some of the flattening," said Gennadiy Goldberg, an interest rate strategist at TD Securities in New York.

The yield curve between five-year notes and 30-year bonds flattened to 95 basis points, the narrowest since December 2007, on Thursday. The US dollar eased, falling 0.3 per cent to 111.03 yen . The US dollar index edged lower to 97.502, extending Wednesday's 0.2 percent loss.