With more talk of a US interest rate

Asia stocks end week slightly up, oil rebounds

GMT 08:38 2016 Friday ,20 May

Arab Today, arab today Asia stocks end week slightly up, oil rebounds

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso (C)
Hong Kong - Arab Today

Asia stocks were mostly up Friday, as oil prices rebounded and investors shrugged off a weak lead from New York and Europe that coincided with more talk of a US interest rate hike as soon as June.

Markets were also eyeing a meeting between finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven countries for fresh trading cues, with the group expected to hammer out their strategy for keeping a global recession at bay.

Sentiment in Europe and the US was slightly unsettled Thursday following the unexplained crash of an EgyptAir plane in the Mediterranean with 66 people aboard, but the unease appeared not to extend to Asia.

Tokyo edged up nearly 0.2 percent, Sydney increased 0.6 percent and Hong Kong rose 1.1 percent. Shanghai was also almost 0.2 percent up.

Energy and commodity firms were among those lifted, as world oil prices advanced in Asian trade, with Brent crude back above $49 a barrel.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate gained 1.23 percent at $48.75 and Brent crude was trading 0.94 percent, higher at $49.27.

In Hong Kong, China Shenhua Energy gained 3.3 percent and PetroChina increased 0.8 percent.

Sydney-listed mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto gained 1.7 percent and 2.1 percent respectively, while Woodside Petroleum got a 1.9 percent boost.
In global markets investors had been focused on hawkish Fed statements Thursday, as one of the most dovish members of the Federal Reserve's policy board, William Dudley, expressed confidence in the US economy and reiterated that a rate increase will be on the table in the June 14-15 meeting.

Analysts say investors will likely remain on guard until then.

"I expect markets to remain incredibly unsettled in the weeks leading up to the US FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee), as the Fed will likely gauge not only domestic US data but also factor in China’s response as well as equity markets in their June decision," Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA Asia Pacific, said in a commentary.

- G7 meetings kick off -

Finance ministers and central bankers from the G7 are in the meantime kicking off meetings in Japan on Friday for talks likely to highlight a sharp divide over currency policy and how to breathe life into the wheezing global economy.

Host Japan is keen to win an endorsement for its position that fiscal stimulus is the way to kickstart the world economy, after a rally in the yen hit exporters and accelerated a slowdown at home.

But Tokyo's threat of a market intervention to reverse the rise could put it on a collision course with other G7 nations, including the United States and Germany, which have ruled out such moves.
"As uncertainty about the world economy has increased, macroeconomic policies and structural reforms" will be discussed, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso told an opening reception Thursday.

Separately, shares of airlines and travel companies were a mixed bag following news of the EgyptAir crash.

Japan Airlines slipped 1.3 percent while rival All Nippon Airways eased 0.9 percent.

But Cathay Pacific was up 2.2 percent in Hong Kong, Qantas increased 0.3 percent while Sydney Airport and Flight Centre Travel Group also gained.

Elsewhere Taipei was 0.6 percent higher in the morning as Taiwan swore in China-sceptic Tsai Ing-wen as the island's first female president, with an increasingly hostile Beijing looking on.

Tsai took office after winning a landslide victory in January to defeat the ruling Kuomintang, ending an eight-year rapprochement with Beijing under outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou.

- Key figures around 0315 GMT -

Tokyo: Nikkei 225: UP 0.19 percent at 16,677.65

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.15 percent at 2,811.271

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.1 percent at 19,910.38

Dollar/yen: UP 110.02 at yen from 109.96 yen

Euro/dollar: UP at 1.1204 from $1.1203 on Thursday

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 17,435.40 (close) 

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.8 percent at 6,053.35 (close)

Source: AFP

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