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Asia report: Markets finish mixed as oil price rises

By Josh White

Date: Thursday 02 Apr 2020

Asia report: Markets finish mixed as oil price rises

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia finished in a mixed state on Thursday, as investors kept weighing the ongoing, severe economic risks posed by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, as the virus continued its global spread.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 1.37% at 17,818.72, as the yen weakened 0.16% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 107.34.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation firm Fanuc was up 1.75% and technology giant SoftBank Group added 2.53%, while Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing slumped 2.41%.

The broader Topix index ended the day down 1.57%, closing the session at 1,329.87 in Tokyo.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was ahead 1.69% at 2,780.64, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite added 2.26% to 1,697.56.

South Korea's Kospi was ahead 2.34% at 1,724.86, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong managed gains of 0.84% to 23,280.06.

Both of the blue-chip technology stocks were stronger in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics up 2.18% and chipmaker SK Hynix rising 2.04%.

The hastening spread of Covid-19 remained firmly at the top of the agenda on Thursday, with almost one million infections now confirmed globally and more than 40,000 lives lost.

Authorities globally have put in place severe and unprecedented social and economic restrictions in a bid to stem the spread of the disease, resulting in many people being forced to stay home and a large number of economies on 'pause'.

Oil prices soared at the end of the Asian day, with Brent crude last up 9.5% at $27.33 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 9.45% to $22.43.

"The drag on markets yesterday wasn't helped by continued weakness in the oil price," noted CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

"We do appear to be seeing some gains in that regard this morning on a couple of headlines that China will start topping up its state reserves, and that Saudi Arabia is supporting cooperation amongst oil producers to stabilise oil markets."

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slid 1.98% by the end of trading in Sydney, closing at 5,154.30, led lower by the hefty financials subindex, which was 4.21% weaker.

The country's major banks sold off, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group down 5.28%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia off 3.82%, National Australia Bank falling 5.6%, and Westpac Banking Corporation falling 4.31%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 slipped 0.56% to settle at 9,870.56, as outdoor apparel and equipment brand Kathmandu plunged 27.7% after raising $154m in a cut-price fundraising.

The company also confirmed it was seeking another $53m from retail investors, as its retail outlets remained closed and its trading effectively stopped.

It was a mixed picture for the down under dollars, with the Aussie last 0.09% weaker against the greenback at AUD 1.6481, while the Kiwi strengthened 0.28% to NZD 1.6853.

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