Asian stocks mixed on oil price rally, central banks watch

Asian stocks mixed on oil price rally, central banks watch

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday after an overnight surge in oil prices raised questions about the outlook for the energy sector. Investors are watching for the outcome of policy meetings by the U.S. Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.4 percent to 17,276.52. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 21,356.43. The Shanghai Composite index was nearly flat at 2,965.61. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 percent to 5,295.80. South Korea's KOSPI edged 0.2 percent lower to 2,015.28. Southeast Asian markets were mixed.

WALL STREET: Stocks finished mostly higher Tuesday as energy companies climbed in tandem with the price of oil, but technology companies fell. The Dow Jones industrial average added 13.08 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,990.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.91 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,091.70. The Nasdaq fell 7.50 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,888.28. Julian Emanuel, U.S. equities and derivatives strategist for UBS, said investors are waiting to see the results of Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan policy meetings in the next few days. The Fed is expected to leave interest rates unchanged, while the Bank of Japan could take new steps to stimulate Japan's economy.

OIL PRICES: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 44 cents to $44.48 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $1.40, or 3.3 percent, to $44.04 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 48 cents to $46.22. Data showing that inventory buildups may be slowing pushed the U.S. benchmark to its highest close since early November.

THE QUOTE: "The concern is that at $45 (a barrel) a significant amount of oil plays become profitable again and we still have not seen a big enough decline in oil output to bring about the appropriate supply and demand rebalancing," said Angus Nicholson of IG. "Everyone in the market is concerned that we could see a repeat of 2015, where after a dramatic price decline, prices began to rise again and prompted a huge influx of oversupply and an even more severe selloff."

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.1300 from $1.1297 on Tuesday. The dollar fell to 111.09 yen from 111.32 yen.

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