Libya unrest keeps Asian shares on edge

Libya unrest keeps Asian shares on edge

Tokyo: Asian shares were mixed on Thursday as surging oil prices, violence in Libya and a weak finish on Wall Street kept markets on edge.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average lost 0.7% to 10,506.16. A strong yen pressured exporters, whose repatriated profits from abroad decline in value as the yen appreciates.

Honda Motor Co. fell 0.9%, and Sony Corp. was down 1.1%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.5% to 4,823.30. Benchmarks in Singapore and New Zealand also declined.

Meanwhile, other markets managed to post modest gains. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.4% to 22,997.26, and the Shanghai Composite index added 0.4% to 2,874.76. Shares in South Korea and Taiwan also rose.

In New York on Wednesday, stocks fell for a second straight day after clashes in Libya sent oil prices to two-year highs and technology giant Hewlett-Packard said its revenue growth was slowing.

Libya is the world’s 15th largest exporter of crude, accounting for 2% of global daily output. Traders are worried the revolt could threaten Libya’s oil production and spread to other countries in the region such as oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

Many Asian airlines extended losses on the sharp rise in oil prices, while energy companies benefited.

Japanese oil company Inpex Corp. was up 2.1%, and Cnooc Ltd. climbed 1.4% in Hong Kong.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 107.01 points, or 0.9%, to 12,105.78. The broader S&P 500 fell 8.04, or 0.6%, to 1,307.40. The Nasdaq composite fell 33.43, or 1.2%, to 2,722.99.

In currencies, the dollar fell to ¥82.21 from ¥82.53 late Wednesday. The euro stood at $1.3772 from $1.3744.

Benchmark crude for April delivery jumped $1.20 to $99.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.68, or 2.8%, to settle at $98.10.