HONG KONG: Oil began inching upward on Thursday after a day of losses over demand concerns linked to the COVID-19 lockdown in China.
Ongoing restrictions in the country, including in the economic hub of Shanghai where tens of millions are confined to their homes, have hit transport networks but traders are balancing the demand shock alongside threats to supply caused by the war in Ukraine with the European Union countries mulling bans on Russian crude.
The United States has said it will release a substantial portion of its oil reserves to cushion the shortfall.
"Oil is still trading mixed after Tuesday's sharp pullback but is opening in Asia near the midpoint of yesterday's trading range - the US inventory draws lean helpful. Still, there is not much incremental news overnight, with a trajectory from here really hinging on whether other nations join the UK/US in banning Russian oil imports," Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said.
Markets in Asia were largely up, with Japan's Nikkei 225 gaining over a per cent in early trade, with brokers staying optimistic over a falling yen for a third straight day.
But Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index continued its downward spiral and Shanghai also opened lower as news from China around Covid-19 restrictions, interest rate cuts, and curbs on tech companies remained a cause of concern.
Seoul, Jakarta, Taipei, and Sydney were all marginally higher.
European markets pushed ahead yesterday aided by news of a return to growth in eurozone industrial output in February.
But mixed results on Wall Street, where losses linked to dwindling subscriptions at streaming behemoth Netflix, also weighed on Asian trade with tech stocks down in Hong Kong.
Players will likely remain cautious ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's remarks before the US central bank meets next, with concerns high about rate hikes.
"Fed Chair Powell and ECB President Lagarde speak at an IMF Panel, while BoE Governor Bailey speaks at a separate event later Thursday," Innes said.
"These central bankers, notably Powell, are unlikely to push back against market pricing, suggesting that the recent global bond market rally is a respite on the way to higher yields."
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.21% at 27,547.24
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.93% at 3,121.67
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.14% at 20,705.48
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0828 from $1.0850
Dollar/yen: UP at 128.47 yen from 127.84 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3049 from $1.3065
Euro/pound: DOWN at 82.96 pence from 83.03 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.22 at $103.43 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.28% at $108.17 per barrel
New York - Dow: UP 0.7% at 35,160.79 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4% at 7,629.22 (close)
PM Shahbaz Sharif directs authorities concerned to fix the price of 10-kg flour at Rs490 at the Utility Stores
The rupee closes at Rs192.53 after shedding Rs0.76 in the interbank market against greenback
Dried-up foreign currency inflows coupled with delay in IMF bailout take a toll on depreciating currency
Rupee closed at Rs190.02 to a dollar in the interbank market, down Rs1.36 from last session's close of Rs188.66
The price at the pump hit $4.37 per gallon, surpassing the last record of $4.33 set on March 11
Benchmark Nikkei 225 index dips 0.58% to end at 26,167.10, while broader Topix index falls 0.85% to 1,862.38