Asia markets mostly up, Singapore shares 0.19% higher

Asia markets mostly up, Singapore shares 0.19% higher

Asia traded mostly up in a choppy morning session on Wednesday, as some analysts predicted that "rally fatigue" was setting in.

Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at the National Australia Bank, said in a morning note, "The global equity rally that began on Friday has started to show signs of fatigue," noting that most European indices ended marginally lower on Tuesday. The positive finish in the US was partly due to indexes there playing catch up after a long weekend, he said.

The US market was closed on Monday for the President's Day holiday.

But analysts at Barclays had a different take, suggesting in a note that the gain in US equities overnight was driven by "consumer discretionary, industrials and financials," adding that risk aversion was mostly subdued despite the overnight fall in oil prices. Core retail sales data topped expectations on Friday, rising 0.6 per cent in January after an unrevised 0.3 per cent slip in December.

Singapore shares opened 0.19% higher, with the benchmark Straits Times Index adding 4.93 points to 2,649.51, The Business Times reported.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.92 per cent while the broader Topix gained 1.03 per cent. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi was up 0.29 per cent.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 retraced some early losses to trade flat, with the energy sector leading falls with a 3.71 per cent drop.

In Asian hours, US crude futures were up 0.48 per cent at $29.18, after slipping 1.36 per cent overnight. Global benchmark Brent finished the US session down 3.6 per cent at $32.18 a barrel.

Energy plays across the board were mostly lower, with Santos shedding 4.55 per cent, Woodside Petroleum falling 6.4 per cent and Inpex down 4.75 per cent.

Oil briefly rallied in the overnight session after Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela said they would lead an effort to freeze output at January levels, dashing hopes of a cut in production.

Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG, wrote in his morning epistle, "OPEC nations will freeze production at January levels, which was 43.1 million barrels of oil a day. Interesting, considering January levels were a record and were producing 1 million barrels a day above demand. That, coupled with EIA stockpiling, registered record levels in January."

This is the first major accord of its type in 15 years, with the last accord in 2001, and the one before in 1998.

Lucas said, "What also makes this accord interesting is that history would suggest Russia is the one to watch. It was the first to break the 2001 and 1998 accords due to 'not enough action' taken by other OPEC nations."

"The agreement is not signed and nor is there signs it will even materialise considering the clause around other nations acting," he added.

Iran, which re-entered the international market this year after US-led sanctions on the Persian state were lifted, swiftly said it would not reduce its share of the oil market. Reuters, citing sources familiar to the matter, reported that the OPEC member could be offered special terms under a global deal to freeze oil production levels.

Major US indexes closed up overnight with the Dow Jones industrial average up 222.57 points, or 1.39 per cent, at 16,196.41 while the S&P 500 closed higher 30.80 points, or 1.65 per cent, to 1,895.58. The Nasdaq composite gained 98.44 points, or 2.27 per cent, to 4,435.96.

On the data front, South Korea will release its PPI and unemployment numbers for January; Japan will release its December machinery orders while Taiwan will announce its fourth quarter final GDP for 2015.

In corporate earnings, the likes of Domino's Pizza, IAG, Bridgestone, Axiata, OCBC, and Sembcorp industries will announce their earnings numbers.

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