HONG KONG (AFP) -Asian stocks were mixed in lacklustre trade Thursday, while oil prices hit a new four-year low ahead of a pivotal OPEC meeting expected to maintain the cartel’s production levels despite a huge glut.
Tokyo stocks lost 0.78 per cent as a stronger yen took the wind out of the market ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, which will see US markets closed Thursday and open for shortened trade on Friday.
The Hang Seng Index fell 0.45 per cent or 107.70 points to 24,004.28 on turnover of HK$72.888 billion ($9.4 billion) ahead of an Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decision on quotas and after an unexpected drop in Chinese industrial profits.
“Oil prices continued to struggle in Asia with investors unconvinced output cuts can be agreed to support prices,” said IG in comments carried by Dow Jones.
Bucking the trend was China, where shares extended gains as the market continued to bask in an interest rate cut with expectations of further easing to boost the economy, dealers said.
Coming in at its highest close in more than three years, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.00 per cent, or 26.15 points, to 2,630.49 on turnover of 339.0 billion yuan ($55.2 billion). It was the exchange’s highest ending since August 4, 2011.
The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, rose 0.75 per cent, or 10.52 points, to 1,416.18 on turnover of 270.6 billion yuan.
China’s central bank last week unexpectedly cut deposit and lending rates, fuelling hopes that more monetary easing will follow, analysts said.
Funds released from unsuccessful subscriptions for new share offers had also returned to the market, boosting liquidity, he added.
Sydney edged up 0.09 per cent to close at 5,400.9 points, with Seoul also ending up slightly by 0.06 per cent to 1,982.09 points.
The Dow and S&P 500 edged higher to new records Wednesday following a stream of mixed US economic data.
But in Asia the focus shifted to oil prices, which retreated ahead of the cartel’s meeting.
“All eyes are squarely on OPEC now. We suspect they will decide to keep to their current 30 million barrel-a-day production level,” said David Lennox, resource analyst at Fat Prophets in Sydney.
The price of US benchmark oil fell to a new four-year low Thursday on growing expectations that OPEC will not take significant action.
West Texas Intermediate for delivery in January fell to $72.61 a barrel — the lowest level since 2010. It later stood at $72.79, down 90 cents from Wednesday’s closing level.
The 12-nation talks in Vienna will be one of OPEC’s toughest and most significant meetings in recent years, with members facing a glut that has sent prices plunging by over 30 per cent in five months.
In Tokyo, the European common currency had slipped to $1.2503 in afternoon trade and 146.71 yen against $1.2506 and 147.22 yen in New York.
The dollar was lower at 117.29 yen, compared with 117.72 yen in US trading.
Gold was at 1,194.20 an ounce, compared with $1,195.70 late Wednesday.