Asian markets mostly lower after Wall Street slides on oil price decline

BEIJING, China – Asian stock markets were mostly lower Friday after a slide in oil prices drove a Wall Street decline.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.2 per cent to 24,413.13 points and Seoul’s Kospi lost 0.2 per cent to 2,033.77. Taiwan, Manila and Jakarta also declined. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.1 per cent to 19,493.18 and benchmarks in Sydney and New Zealand also rose. The Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 3,580.30.

WALL STREET’S LOSS: U.S. stocks sank on Thursday, led by Chevron, Exxon Mobil and other energy companies, as the price of oil extended its slump. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 117.16 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 17,959.03, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 10.23 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,089.27. The Nasdaq composite rose 9.55 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4,992.38.

U.S. ECONOMY: Sentiment was dampened by data Thursday showing that weekly applications for unemployment aid edged up last week. That came after stocks surged Wednesday on news the Federal Reserve was in no hurry to raise ultra-low interest rates that have helped lift stock and bond prices.

THE QUOTE: “The data have looked a lot weaker of late and while the Fed may view it as a ‘moderation,’ we see it as a return to normality,” said DBS Group in a report. “We think overhangs still exist in labour markets, capex markets and household balance sheets that could keep consumption, investment, wages and broader inflation low for another 2-3 years. Fed liftoff date could become a perpetually rolling stone.”

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed another 9 cents to $45.62 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $1.12 on Thursday to close at $45.53. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 15 cents after tumbling $1.48 on Thursday to $54.43.

CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 120.79 yen from Thursday’s 120.76 yen. The euro rose to $1.0683 from the previous day’s $1.0668.