Most Asian Stock Markets Climb as Oil Lifts Energy Producers

  • Crude oil advances as U.S. stockpiles seen declining
  • Japan’s Topix index drops as yen strengthens against dollar

Most Asian stock markets climbed, led by gains among energy producers as crude prices advanced, while a stronger yen weighed on Japanese shares.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.3 percent to 128.82 as of 4:10 p.m. in Hong Kong. Benchmark gauges rose in Hong Kong, Australia, South Korea and Taiwan. Japan’s Topix index slipped 0.7 percent, extending a two-day slide. Energy posted the largest gains among the 10 groups on the regional index as BHP Billiton Ltd. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. climbed more than 1.8 percent.

“We saw big moves from the energy sector with crude’s move overnight supporting,” said Tristan K’Nell, a Sydney-based analyst at Altair Asset Management. “The resource sector is an area of the market we continue to like.”

Asian markets were whipsawed over the past month as Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union rattled confidence. While markets quickly recouped losses, equities slumped in the past two sessions amid concerns over Brexit’s impact on global growth. Confidence in European equity markets is being sapped in the vote’s aftermath as U.K. property funds freeze withdrawals and concerns about Italian banks escalate.

All eyes turn Friday to U.S. monthly payrolls data. Following the tepid pace of growth in the first quarter, the focus is now on how strongly the world’s largest economy could rebound in the second quarter. Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting showed officials were unnerved by May’s weak payrolls report ahead of the U.K. vote.

Japan’s Topix has fallen 2.8 percent in the past three sessions. The yen has continued to strengthen against the dollar this week, trading near the highest levels in more than two years, as investors weigh the appetite of central banks to boost stimulus. The Japanese currency rose 0.3 percent to 100.99 to the dollar on Thursday.

The Bank of Japan “certainty needs to move again,” Mikio Kumada, a strategist at LGT Capital Partners in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg TV. “There is no reason for Japan to hold back. They have to send a strong signal that they are easing monetary policy and also that they are sticking to their two percent inflation target. If they don’t do that, we risk losing some credibility there.”

The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index climbed 1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 0.6 percent, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 0.4 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi index added 1.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 1 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was little changed. Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.8 percent. Markets in Indonesia and Malaysia are closed for holidays.

CIMIC Group Ltd. slumped 17 percent in Sydney as Morgan Stanley analysts said the infrastructure firm is facing slowing spending on engineering and construction projects, cutting its price estimate on the shares. Tabcorp Holdings Ltd., a betting firm, sank 4.4 percent, the most in eight months, after two state governments in Australia said they would ban greyhound racing.

ABC-Mart Inc. soared 6.3 percent in Tokyo after the maker of Vans shoes reported operating profit that climbed in the first quarter.

Gold companies rallied, with Zijin Mining Group Co. jumping 4.3 percent. Newcrest Mining Ltd., which has seen its share price double since the start of the year, rose 1 percent. Prices of the precious metal climbed to a two-year high as investors sought a haven from the tumult in financial markets, with UBS Group AG saying bullion is probably at the start of a bull run.

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