Asian markets mixed as drop in oil prices weighs on energy stocks

Asian stocks markets were mixed in early trading Thursday after muted moves in the U.S. and Europe overnight. The Nikkei started lower, hampered by a further uptick for the yen, but Chinese stocks advanced despite rising trade tensions.

As Japanese stocks lagged amid fresh U.S.-China trade concerns and a stronger yen, the dollar USDJPY, -0.14% fell to session lows of ¥110.78 versus ¥110.95 in late New York trading. The Nikkei NIK, -0.11%  was off 0.3%, with the oil/coal-products sector leading the way lower, skidding 2.3% following the overnight slump in oil prices. Japan Petroleum 1662, -10.01%  tumbled 8.5%. Japanese skincare giant Shiseido 4911, +7.66%  rebounded strongly after selling off sharply Wednesday following its earnings report, in which it raised ita yearly guidance. A day after finishing down 4.4%, the stock was up 6.5% Thursday. Shiseido shares have soared 48% this year.

After starting with modest declines, Chinese stocks bounced back after Wednesday’s sizable pullback. Perhaps helping sentiment, inflation numbers came in higher than expected last month, a possible sign that demand is holding up. The Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +1.78%  was up 0.8% and the Shenzhen Composite 399106, +2.67%  jumped 1.6%. Consumer and cyclical stocks were the top performers, but oil names were sliding.

Hong Kong stocks also made up early losses. The Hang Seng HSI, +0.90%  was up 0.3%, on pace for its fourth straight gain. Oil stocks fell though, with PetroChina 0857, -0.49%  and CNOOC 0883, -0.92%  down more than 1%. Property stocks were also under pressure after major lending local banks announced plans to finally raise interest rates — perhaps signalling the end to a decade of low borrowing costs. Hang Lung Properties 0101, -0.98%  and New World Development 0017, +0.00%  were down more 1%.

South Korea’s Kospi SEU, -0.19%  slipped 0.1%, with Hyundai 005380, -1.57% down 1%. Stocks were down in Taiwan Y9999, -0.37% , but up in Malaysia FBMKLCI, +0.26% . Singapore’s market was closed for a holiday.

Australia’s ASX 200 XJO, +0.63%  was up despite energy losses. Santos STO, -0.45% , Oil Search OSH, +0.11%  and Woodside Petroleum WPL, -0.19% were all down less than 1%. New Zealand’s NZX 50 NZ50GR, +0.81%  rebounded 0.8% following underperformance the past few days as Ryman Healthcare, RYM, +1.75%  a retirement-village operator, jumped 4% to fresh record highs.

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