Markets

Asia-Pacific Stocks Mixed as Ukraine Crisis Continues; Oil Prices Surge More Than 6%

Toru Hanai | Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Shares in Asia-Pacific largely declined in Wednesday morning trade, with Japan's Nikkei 225 falling nearly 2%.
  • Economic activity in Australia rose 3.4% in the fourth quarter from the third, according to data released Wednesday by the country's Bureau of Statistics. That was above expectations in a Reuters poll for a 3% gain.
  • Oil prices have surged as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, with both Brent and U.S. crude futures rising more than 6% each on Wednesday afternoon in Asia.

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific mostly tumbled in Wednesday trade as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict continued to lead to a surge in oil prices.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan dropped 1.68% to close at 26,393.03 while the Topix index shed 1.96% to 1,859.94.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 1.85%, as of its final hour of trading.

Mainland Chinese stocks also finished the trading day in negative territory, with the Shanghai composite down 0.13% to 3,484.19 while the Shenzhen component declined 1.05% to 13,346.96.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Kospi closed 0.16% higher at 2,703.52.

Elsewhere, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.28% to close at 7,116.70 on the back of positive economic data. Economic activity in Australia rose 3.4% in the fourth quarter from the third, according to data released Wednesday by the country's Bureau of Statistics. That was above expectations in a Reuters poll for a 3% gain.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.86%.

Oil prices soar more than 6%

Oil prices continued surging in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 6.17% to $111.45 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also saw big gains, rising 6.1% to $109.72 per barrel. Brent briefly climbed as high as $111.78 per barrel earlier, a level not seen since Jan. 2013.

That's despite the the International Energy Agency saying Tuesday it will release 60 million barrels of oil from global reserves, in a bid to ease the current supply constraint.

Oil prices have surged in recent days as Russia continued its assault on Ukraine, with U.S. crude futures hitting its highest level in seven years on Tuesday.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 597.65 points to 33,294.95 while the S&P 500 shed 1.55% to 4,306.26. The Nasdaq Composite declined 1.59% to 13,532.46.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.593 after a recent climb from levels below 97.

The Japanese yen traded at 115.09 per dollar, still stronger than levels around 115.6 seen against the greenback earlier this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7247, extending gains after climbing from below $0.72 earlier in the week.

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