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Oil price fall weighs on Asia Pacific equities

Asian equities were enduring a directionless morning session on Thursday as benchmarks in the region were weighed on by energy stocks falling in reaction to an oil price slide during the previous session.

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 quantitative easing within months.

Crude oil prices were stabilising in Asia after a dramatic sell-off late in the previous session. International benchmark Brent crude was up 0.4 per cent at $47.96 after closing 3.7 per cent lower on Wednesday.

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 down 2.7 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively. In Sydney the energy segment of the S&P/ASX 200 index was down 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 – the worst performers from the Hang Seng benchmark index, which was off just 0.1 per cent.

The dollar was making mild gains against most major currencies aside from Japan’s yen, which was up 0.1 per cent on the greenback, hovering around ¥113.1. The dollar index was up 0.1 per cent at 96.285.