Asian equities largely rose on a data-light Monday following a bounce in oil markets and a third consecutive winning session on Wall Street last Friday.
US stocks rose for a third session at the end of last week, with the S&P 500 tallying its second-best week in nearly two years, as energy stocks continued to rebound. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed up 0.4 percent. The S&P 500 added 0.5 percent to finish at 2,070.65 points, rising 3.4 percent for the week.
Oil also bounced higher on Friday as selling pressure from a six-month price rout eased for a second time this week on short-covering. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures ended the session up USD 2.41 at USD 56.52 a barrel while benchmark Brent hovered above USD 61.
However, not all analysts feel that oil prices are poised for a rebound. “Unless Saudi Arabia balances the market, prices could fall to USD 15-20 a barrel,” Mike Harrowell, director of Resources Research at BBY told CNBC. “The question is why are we stopping here at the moment and how long is it? We’d be a bit suspicious on [oil prices] finding a floor.”
In other energy news, the United Arab Emirates oil minister urged all of the world’s producers on Sunday not to raise their oil output next year, saying this would quickly stabilize prices.
Japan’s key Nikkei 225 index fell nearly 0.1 percent an hour into trade from its intra-day peak of 17,692 points, as dollar-yen remained little moved at 119.45.
Minimal movements in the currency stalled the rally in exporter stocks; Nintendo reversed opening gains to dip 0.2 percent while Suzuki Motor dropped 0.7 percent.
Heavyweight components traded mixed, capping gains on the index. Softbank made gains of 0.8 percent but clothing chain operator Fast Retailing fell 0.2 percent early Monday.
Oil refiner Idemitsu is reportedly in talks to buy Showa Shell for USD 4.1 billion to create the second biggest player in Japan’s gasoline market, according to Reuters. Shares of both firms elevated 3.4 and 25.7 percent, respectively.
ASX rises 1.1 percent
Australia’s benchmark S&P ASX 200 index climbed to a two-week high in early trade, while the Australian dollar saw marginal losses to trade at USD 0.8135 against the greenback, near multi-year lows.
Oil and gas producers opened up, with Santos and Oil Search zooming up 5.3 and 4.3 percent, respectively. Miners were also broadly higher as iron ore prices rebounded; Fortescue Metals and BHP Billiton climbed 2.3 and 2.2 percent each.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, battling a slide in public support, reshuffled his cabinet on Sunday. Abbott is nearing the end of his first full year in office, hobbled by missteps and a souring economy that have dragged his approval ratings to historic lows.
Kospi gains 0.2 percent
The rally on Wall Street also delivered gains to South Korea’s Kospi index, which traded near its highest level since December 11, after briefly falling into negative territory early Monday.
Samsung Electronics announced plans to increase its full-year dividend by as much as 50 percent last Friday, in an attempt to appease investors piling pressure on the group to boost shareholder returns. Shares of the South Korean electronics giant erased opening gains to trade flat.
Other blue-chips traded mixed, limiting gains on the bourse; steelmaker Posco inched down 0.2 percent, while Hyundai Motor advanced 1.5 percent on news that cash reserves of the country’s second-largest conglomerate surged 7.4 percent to 124 trillion won at the end of September.