Asian share markets turned mixed on Monday as caution grew ahead of Chinese data, though sentiment stayed supported by hopes the US economy would be able to handle an expected first increase in interest rates in almost a decade.
Oil prices were near their lowest since 2009 in the wake of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision to keep production high despite depressed demand.
Brent LCOc1 was last down 27 cents at $42.73 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 lost 37 cents to $39.60 [O/R].
Equity investors were wary ahead of a bevy of Chinese data which are expected to show a still sluggish economy. Trade figures are due on Tuesday, followed by inflation on Wednesday and industrial output and retail sales on Saturday.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan managed only a 0.1% gain, with Australia and South Korea both going flat.
Japan’s Nikkei was the best performer thanks to a soft yen and added 0.99%. In China, the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen dithered either side of zero.
On Monday, the euro was holding at $1.0862, off last week’s $1.0980 peak but still far above the $1.0538 low.
The dollar fared better on the yen, up at 123.26 from as low as 122.44 on Friday. Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar was a shade firmer at 98.432.