Asian markets ended mixed Thursday, as investors digested a U.S. interest-rate decision and responded to a drop in oil prices.
Overnight, the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged and sharpened its focus on inflation.
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index slipped 0.05% to 13822.32. Japan's top oil refiner Nippon Oil dropped 3.1% after oil prices declined on a report that showed U.S. stockpiles of oil and fuel were larger than expected. Oil prices stood at $134.35 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midday in Singapore Thursday after falling more than $2 in New York Wednesday.
Exporters rose on the back of strong gains for technology stocks overnight in the U.S. and the fall in oil prices Toyota Motor /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 +1.15% picked up 0.2% while Nissan Motor /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 +0.55% edged 0.4% higher. Sony /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +0.67% gained 2.8% after the company outlined its strategy for growth geared at regaining its lead in televisions, wiping out the red ink in videogames and investing about $16.7 billion in future technology. (See related article.)
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell 0.8% to 22455.67 as oil companies slipped on crude's overnight declines. However, the fall was cushioned by gains in local banks.
Among oil companies, Cnooc /zigman2/quotes/203421416/delayed HK:883 -1.74% fell 1.9% while PetroChina /zigman2/quotes/204979431/delayed HK:857 -2.52% slid 1.3%. In contrast, local lenders advanced after the U.S. Fed indicated it was in no hurry to raise interest rates. Hang Seng Bank /zigman2/quotes/201710108/delayed HK:11 -1.26% advanced 2.4% while Bank of China Hong Kong /zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed HK:3988 -1.15% rose 0.2%.
Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both Class A and Class B shares, ended down 0.1% at 2901.85. The index was largely unchanged as profit-taking in banks and oil companies weighed shares but agriculture stocks extended gains on hopes of strong earnings.
Banks and oil companies fell on profit-taking. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China ended down 2.1% while China Petroleum & Chemical, or Sinopec, fell 2.2%.
However, agriculture companies and other food producers extended the previous session's gains on hopes that higher food prices would boost their earnings. Yuan Longping High-Tech Agriculture, a rice producer, rose 10% while Hunan Jinjian Cereals Industry, a rice and grain grower, rose 5.1%.
Among other notable gainers, China Railway Group climbed 3.3% on hopes of strong revenue this year.
In Seoul, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, ended flat at 1717.66 after trading higher most of the session.
As the start of second-quarter earnings season draws nearer, blue-chip technology companies rose on expectations of solid results. Bellwether Samsung Electronics ended up 1.5% and Hynix Semiconductor inched up 0.2%.
Posco rose 0.9% on hopes that its recent steel-price increase will offset higher expenses from rising raw-material prices. Dongwon Industries and Dongwon F&B closed down 0.7% and 2.5% respectively, after their parent Dongwon Group said earlier that the deal to buy a controlling stake in Starkist from Del Monte Foods has been delayed due to minor disagreements discovered during the drawing up of a contract.
In currency trading, the dollar stood at ¥108.14 in Tokyo, up from ¥107.89 in New York late Wednesday.
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