Hang Seng, mainland Chinese stocks give up early gains
An incredible day on Wall Street, which saw major indexes finishing at least 5% higher, spurred Asian stock gains Thursday as some traders returned from a Christmas break.
U.S. markets were, however, indicating a pullback in the Thursday session.
Stock markets also got a boost from crude oil futures, which surged 8% Wednesday, coming off 17-month lows as a Russian official predicted oil prices would stabilize in 2019.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index NIK, +3.88% rebounded 3.8%. It had tumbled more than 5% on Tuesday before recovering slightly a day later. The energy sector was among the day’s biggest winners, as Inpex 1605, +4.28% , JXTG 5020, +8.06% , Fuji Oil 5017, +8.86% and Japan Petroleum Exploration 1662, +6.08% rallied. Nintendo 7974, +4.25% , Sony 6758, +5.51% and Fast Retailing 9983, +1.31% also posted solid gains.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, -0.67% , which reopened after the Christmas holiday, gained initially but closed down 0.6%. Energy companies were again among the leaders, with CNOOC 0883, +0.51% , China Petroleum & Chemical 0386, -4.68% and PetroChina 0857, -0.21% rising about 2% or more. Tech stocks gained as well, with Sunny Optical 2382, +0.74% and AAC 2018, -0.78% advancing.
On mainland China, the Shanghai Composite index SHCOMP, -0.61% was down 0.6% after a higher open, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite 399106, -1.22% also fell as government data showed industrial profits fell in November for the first time in almost three years.
South Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.02% added 0.02% as Samsung 005930, -0.26% and SK Hynix 000660, +2.50% gained. Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 XJO, +1.88% rallied 1.8%, with energy companies such as Woodside Petroleum WPL, +4.16% , Santos STO, +2.67% and Beach Energy BPT, +1.14% advancing. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, +1.72% and Singapore STI, +1.12% rose around 2%.
On Wednesday, U.S. markets snapped a four-day losing streak and clocked their best day in more than 10 years. Investors were reassured by an official signal that President Donald Trump, who has heavily criticized the Fed on Twitter, will not try to oust Chairman Jerome Powell. The broad S&P 500 index SPX, -2.01% soared 5% to 2,467.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -2.15% added over 1,000 points — its biggest point gain in a day — or 5% to 22,878.45. The Nasdaq composite COMP, -2.20% picked up 5.8% to 6,554.36.
“Wall Street’s strong rebound on Wednesday inspires gains across to Asia even as the market ponders about the sustainability of this change with the light volume that accompanied,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a market commentary.
According to Bloomberg News, the U.S. will send government delegation to hold trade talks with Chinese officials in Beijing in the week starting Jan. 7. It cited two people familiar with the matter. This follows a meeting between Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Argentina earlier this month. The two leaders agreed to hold off on additional tariffs for 90 days, to work on disagreements on trade and technology policies.
Benchmark U.S. crude CLG9, -2.12% declined in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the contract posted its biggest one-day gain in more than two years to settle at $46.22 a barrel in New York. Brent crude LCOG9, -2.07% , used to price international oil, eased to $54.34 a barrel during Asian trading.
The rally was “a clear signal that the oil market tumult was rooted in the equity market volatility where investor sentiment has been weighted down by the unfortunate events in Washington, higher U.S. Interest rates, China economic slowdown and the omnipresent U.S.-China trade dispute,” wrote Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at Oanda, in a research note.
The dollar USDJPY, -0.63% eased to 111.04 yen from 111.37 yen late Wednesday.