Asian stocks inch up after Wall Street's gains, oil prices slide

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index, centre, is displayed on an electronic stock board outside a securities firm in Tokyo.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index, centre, is displayed on an electronic stock board outside a securities firm in Tokyo.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Asian stocks edged up early on Wednesday (Sept 28) following an overnight rise for US stocks, while reduced hopes that a meeting of major producers would reduce a oversupply weighed heavily on crude oil prices.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.1 per cent.

Australian stocks were up 0.5 per cent while South Korea's Kospi was flat. Japan's Nikkei was last down 1.1 per cent.

Overnight, the Dow rose 0.7 per cent and Nasdaq added 0.9 per cent. A perceived win by Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump at the first presidential debate gave broader support to equities, although sliding oil prices were a drag on the energy sector.

Oil fell about 3 per cent on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia and Iran dashed market expectations that the two major Opec producers would find a compromise this week at a meeting in Algiers to help ease a global glut of crude.

US crude had crawled up 0.45 per cent to US$44.87 a barrel early on Wednesday, the final day of the Sept 26-28 International Energy Forum gathering.

With oil prices having dropped to less than half of their 2014 highs, the Algiers talks are OPEC's second attempt at an output agreement after a failed round in Qatar in April.

"The market currently does not expect any agreement at this meeting, so no agreement should have only limited negative impact on the oil price," wrote Marshall Gittler, head of investment research at FXPRIMUS. "Expectations are now so low though that if by some miracle they did come to even a half-hearted agreement, that would probably send prices up sharply."

In currencies, the US dollar was flat at 100.470 yen.

It had popped up to 100.990 yen on Tuesday when Clinton was seen to have emerged as the winner at the debate and removed an element of uncertainty. But the rise petered out with the market reminded that Clinton also favours a weaker dollar, and with the greenback also hurt by falling US yields.

The euro was steady at US$1.1217 after losing about 0.4 per cent overnight on concerns over Europe's banking sector.

Near-term market focus was on European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, who will face tough questions from German lawmakers later on Wednesday about the central bank's monetary policy.

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will deliver semi-annual testimony before the US House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.

The Mexican peso, which jumped against the dollar following Clinton's perceived debate win, held to its gains.

The currency stood little changed at 19.38 pesos to the dollar, having rallied on Tuesday from a record low of 19.92 hit earlier on worries that a Trump win would threaten Mexico's exports to the United States.

The 10-year US Treasury note yield hovered near a three-week low of 1.546 per cent touched overnight amid speculation that Europe's banking woes could delay the Fed's next interest rate hike.