Asian stocks uneven as oil falls, China concerns loom

SEOUL, South Korea – Global stock markets were uneven on Wednesday with European stocks mostly lower in early trading as oil prices fell.

KEEPING SCORE: Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.7 per cent to 6,156.65, while Germany’s DAX slid 0.6 per cent to 9,987.18. France’s CAC 40 slumped 1.0 per cent to 4,296.88. Futures augured a weak start for Wall Street. Dow futures fell 0.3 per cent while S&P futures also dropped 0.3 per cent.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Things seem a little quiet in Asia-Pacific as markets take a breather from some recent volatility,” Stephen Innes, a senior trader at OANDA Asia Pacific, said in a commentary. “The danger of these calmer waters is always that sudden shock of a tidal wave from the Fed, China or another central bank tinkering with its monetary policies. For now, it looks like markets are heading for a mid-week nap.”

ASIA’S DAY: Asian stock markets finished mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged up 0.1 per cent to 16,579.01 while China’s Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 per cent to 2,837.04. But South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.1 per cent to 1,980.10 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slumped 0.9 per cent to 20,055.29. Stocks in Australia and the Philippines were higher but markets in Singapore, Taiwan and India were lower.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 49 cents to $44.18 per barrel on electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.22, or 2.8 per cent, to $44.66 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, fell 14 cents to $45.38 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 108.61 yen from 109.25 yen while the euro rose to $1.1391 from $1.1370.