TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets mostly rose Thursday as oil prices steadied after a series of plunges but gains were uneven amid uncertainty about the global economic outlook.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.5 percent to 17,041.82, getting back above the psychologically key 17,000 point level again as the yen weakened. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 percent to 24,140.57 while South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.2 percent to 1,910.44. China's Shanghai Composite gained 1 percent to 3,252.91. Stock benchmarks in Singapore and Indonesia rose while Taiwan and Australia fell.
GLOBAL WORRIES: Markets have been jittery lately as sharp drops in oil and metal prices raise doubts about the strength of the global economy. The World Bank lowering its global growth forecast for this year to 3 percent from 3.4 percent, blaming sluggish economies in Europe and Japan and a slowdown in China, has also driven shares lower. Weak U.S. retail sales for December added to nerves about the economic outlook.
COMMODITIES: The benchmark U.S. crude futures contract was down 33 cents at $48.15 a barrel in electronic NYMEX trading. The contract surged $2.59 to close at $48.48 in New York on Wednesday but is down 41 percent in the past three months amid oversupply. Brent crude was down 43 cents at $49.93 a barrel in London. Copper, considered a bellwether of global demand because it is used by many industries, tumbled for a third day.
ANALYST TAKE: "Stocks aren't going down, but they aren't about to go up either," said Masahiro Tashiro, analyst at Fisco, an investment consultant in Tokyo. Worries about the global economy remain, including economic reforms in Japan, known as "the third arrow" getting toned down, he said.
WALL STREET: Hit by the weak retail sales report, the Standard & Poor's 500 fell 11.76 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,011.27 on Wednesday. The S&P 500 is heading for its third straight week of losses. The Nasdaq composite fell 22.18 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,639.32 And the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 186.59 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,427.09.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 117.72 yen from its previous close of 117.49 yen. The euro fell to $1.1761 from $1.1789.
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