Asian stocks mixed on surging oil prices

Asian stocks mixed on surging oil prices

Hong Kong: Asian stock markets traded in narrow ranges on Monday as investors continued to worry about soaring oil prices.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average dipped 0.3% to 9,736.07, South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.2% to 2,123.68 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3% at 4,954.20.

Benchmarks in Hong Kong and New Zealand also rose while those in Taiwan and Singapore fell. Benchmark oil for May delivery fell 4 cents to $112.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract rose $2.49, or 2.3%, to settle at $112.79 on Friday following a drop in the dollar and continued jitters about shipments from the world’s major oil suppliers.

Benchmarks in mainland China rose after the country reported its first quarterly trade deficit since 2004 over the weekend as surging prices for commodities pushed up its import bill.

In New York Friday, stocks were weighed down by oil prices as well as the threat of a government shutdown. But that risk was averted late Friday when lawmakers agreed to a last-minute deal to cut about $38 billion in federal spending.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 29.44 points, or 0.2%, to close at 12,380.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 5.34, or 0.4%, to 1,328.17. The Nasdaq composite lost 15.72, or 0.6%, to 2,780.42. In currencies, the dollar slipped to ¥84.74 from ¥84.89 late Friday. The euro was steady at $1.4463.