Oil halts slide as gold rises while stocks mixed

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Oil's rout showed signs of easing, while Asian stocks began Thursday mixed. The New Zealand dollar climbed.

West Texas Intermediate crude halted three days of declines that's driven oil into a bear market amid concern over stockpiles in America. Japanese stocks were flat, while Australian shares bounced back after the biggest one-day drop since November. The kiwi rose after the nation's central bank maintained its neutral policy stance.

The oil rout is raising the chance that inflation will be harder to come by, adding to concerns at the world's most influential central banks. The weakness in crude and other commodities dents arguments from US Federal Reserve officials that weak inflation rates will be transitory, even as the economy shows few signs of distress. More reaction from policy makers may come from Jerome Powell, James Bullard and Loretta Mester who are all due to speak this week.

West Texas oil added 0.3 per cent to US$42.64 (S$59.26) a barrel in early trading Thursday after losing 2.3 per cent on Wednesday.

Brent crude entered a bear market Wednesday, plunging below US$45 a barrel for the first time since November as skepticism that a supply glut will ease worsens. The world benchmark fell 2.6 per cent, down more than 20 per cent from its January peak.

Stocks Futures on the S&P 500 Index dropped 0.1 per cent. The underlying gauge fell 0.1 per cent in New York, with Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. contributing the most to the decline. The Nasdaq 100 Index climbed 1 per cent, continuing its rebound from a two-week selloff. It's still 1.8 per cent away from its June 8 high.

Japan's Topix index was little changed, as was South Korea's Kospi index. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 per cent, after tumbling 1.6 per cent on Wednesday.

The kiwi rose 0.4 per cent to 72.55 US cents.

The pound grabbed the center of the G-10 currency stage on Wednesday after remarks from Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane contrasted sharply with the tone set by the bank's Governor Mark Carney just the day before. Sterling climbed 0.3 per cent and traded early Thursday at US$1.2675.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell less than 0.1 per cent. The yen rose less than 0.1 per cent to 111.30 per dollar.