Thursday 04.20 BST
Asian equities drifted in early trade as energy stocks fell in reaction to an oil price slide, while the dollar made slight gains against a host of currencies.
Wall Street was little moved overnight by the release of minutes from last month’s US Federal Reserve meeting, which showed policymakers ready to press ahead with the unwinding of the central bank’s hefty balance sheet within months.
Oil price falls from the previous session were a key factor behind movements in Asia equities trade on Thursday.
In Tokyo, the energy component of the Topix index was down 1.6 per cent, with petroleum companies JXTG and Inpex losing 2.7 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively. In Sydney, the energy segment of the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7 per cent, with WorleyParsons shedding 2.2 per cent.
Hong Kong’s energy sector was off 0.4 per cent, but state-owned oil companies Cnooc and PetroChina were both down 1.3 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively — the worst performers from the Hang Seng benchmark index, which was off 0.1 per cent.
The dollar was making mild gains against most major currencies aside from Japan’s yen, which was up 0.2 per cent on the greenback, hovering above ¥113. The dollar index — a measure of the greenback against a basket of currencies — was up 0.1 per cent at 96.285.
The Australian dollar was off 0.1 per cent against its US counterpart at $0.7598, while the euro had shed the same amount to $1.1339.
The moves left the dollar index essentially flat at 96.272.
Crude oil prices were stabilising in Asia after a dramatic sell-off late in the previous session.
International benchmark Brent crude was up 0.6 per cent at $48.06 a barrel after closing 3.7 per cent lower on Wednesday. West Texas intermediate, the US marker, was up the same amount at $45.39.
Gold was off 0.1 per cent at $1,226.20 an ounce.
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