Asian Markets Stall on Mixed Data

Asian stock markets were mixed on Tuesday following a choppy session in New York on Monday and after news that the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate stable at its December policy meeting. On Wall Street, the technology sector struggled on Monday, falling 1.9 percent and causing the benchmark S&P 500 to close lower. Investors are now looking towards bank and retail stocks which are expected to benefit the most from the proposed tax bill in the U.S. Some analysts, however, aren’t worried about the Monday’s tech decline, citing the need to rotate strong indexes in order to keep the bull market alive.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was down 0.17 percent as of 1:51 p.m. HK/SIN, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.42 percent. Australia’s ASX 200 lagged 0.23 percent and the Shanghai Composite was 0.21 percent lower in the early afternoon on Tuesday. South Korea’s Kospi was one of the only indices that seemed to be immune to the market weakness, as it gained 0.25 percent.

Oil Prices Unchanged

Oil prices were stable on Tuesday with Brent crude futures unchanged and U.S. WTI crude futures up a modest 0.05 percent to $57.50 per barrel after OPEC members agreed to extend their production cut to the end of 2018. According to Goldman Sachs, Saudi Arabia and Russia expressed a commitment to extending production cuts and they raised their forecasts for both Brent and WTI spot. A Reuters report out Monday showed that OPEC crude oil output declined by 300,000 barrels per day in November, its lowest level since May. All eyes are now on U.S. inventory numbers which will be released on Wednesday. The report is expected to show that U.S. crude inventories dropped for the third straight week.

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