Most Asian stock markets lower as commodity slump weighs

AP News
Posted: Nov 23, 2015 10:42 PM
Most Asian stock markets lower as commodity slump weighs

HONG KONG (AP) — Most Asian stock markets were lower Tuesday as slumping commodity prices weighed on shares of resource companies.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.1 percent to 19,864.71 after reopening following a public holiday. South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.3 percent to 2,009.49. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.8 percent to 22,484.15 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China fell 1.2 percent to 3,569.32. Australia's S&P/ASX shed 0.5 percent to 5,251.50.

COMMODITY CRUNCH: Raw materials such as copper and nickel have slid to multi-year lows on the subdued global economic outlook as well as the dollar's strength on rising expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month. That's dragging down commodity producers such as Australian miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. Demand for commodities from international buyers is affected by the strength of the greenback because contracts are priced in dollars.

FED FOCUS: Most investors expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates from record-low levels at its mid-December meeting and markets are likely to trade within a narrow range unless signs emerge that the U.S. central bank will change course. That contrasts with monetary policy from other major central banks in Japan and Europe, which are expected to keep the stimulus taps open.

QUOTABLE: "The rhetoric from the Fed suggests numbers would have to fall off a cliff to stop an interest rate rise in December," said Michael McCarthy of CMC Markets in Sydney. "Wild gyrations in oil and another copper tumble could see further pressure on resource stocks in trading today."

WALL STREET: Major U.S. indexes ended marginally higher after they failed to hold on to early gains. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.2 percent to 17,792.68 and the Standard & Poor's 500 declined 0.1 percent to 2,086.59. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.1 percent to 5,102.48.

ENERGY: The benchmark U.S. crude futures contract was up 35 cents to $42.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 15 cents, or 0.4 percent, to close at $41.75 in New York on Monday. Brent crude, which is used to set prices for international oils, rose 34 cents to $45.17 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 122.78 yen from 122.92 yen in the previous day's trading. The euro was little changed at $1.0635 from $1.0636.