Asian stocks are mixed as oil recovers

A pedestrian walking past a stock market indicator board in Tokyo, Japan, on April 13, 2017.
A pedestrian walking past a stock market indicator board in Tokyo, Japan, on April 13, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Asian stock markets were mixed as oil recovered some of its slump.

Equities in Japan rose on strong export figures, Australian equities also climbed and South Korean shares were flat. Futures on the S&P 500 Index ticked higher after a rout in crude dragged US shares lower, as the plunge in oil eased in early trading on Thursday (April 20).

Crude added 0.4 per cent in early trading after tumbling 3.8 per cent on Wednesday when a report showed US gasoline supplies increased for the first time since February, while crude output keeps rising.

Disagreement is raging as to the health of markets and the economy. BlackRock boss Laurence Fink said lacklustre growth in the American economy and uncertainty around the Trump administration's ability to quickly pass key reforms pose a risk to markets. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book report showed the US economy continued to grow steadily and Fed vice chairman Stanley Fischer painted a picture of brightening global growth that can better manage the spillover of gradual monetary tightening in the US.

Ahead of the first round of voting in France's presidential election this weekend, polling is suggesting it will be a close call. Every poll for the past month has shown independent Emmanuel Macron and the National Front's Marine Le Pen taking the top two spots. Macron would then easily win the May 7 runoff, polls show. Yet both front-runners have been steadily slipping over the past two weeks, and Republican Francois Fillon and Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon are now within striking distance.

The yen was flat at 108.90 per US dollar as of 9:21am in Tokyo, following a 0.4 per cent decline on Wednesday. The Aussie rose less than 0.1 per cent to 75.02 US cents after a 0.8 per cent slide on Wednesday.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed after rising 0.5 percent Wednesday.

Japan's Topix index added 0.4 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 0.2 per cent and South Korea's Kospi index was little changed. Hang Seng futures added less than 0.1 per cent.

S&P 500 futures rose less than 0.1 per cent. The underlying gauge slid 0.2 per cent on Wednesday.

Gold was flat at US$1,279.54 an ounce.