Asian stocks rise; gains limited due to oil prices

Asian stocks rise; gains limited due to oil prices

Tokyo: Asian stock markets rose on Monday, but their gains were limited by worries over rising oil prices as Libya, which sits on the largest oil reserves in Africa, appears to be sliding toward civil war.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average added 0.4% to 10,545.44 in the morning session.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose less than 0.1% at 23,328.24. The Shanghai Composite index was down 0.4% to 2,985.30.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.7% to 1,993.55. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index was up just 2 points to 4,799.90. Shares in Singapore and Taiwan were slightly higher, but those in New Zealand and Malaysia slipped.

Markets around the world have been rattled by the uprising in Libya, which produces nearly 2% of the world’s oil and delivers most of it to Europe. As rebels try to oust Moammar Gadhafi after 41 years in power, the country now appears to be sliding toward a civil war that could last weeks, or even months.

Investors fear the unrest in Libya could spread to other oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia, further lifting already high oil prices. A sustained rise in oil prices could hurt the global economic recovery by raising manufacturing and transportation costs.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was down 32 cents at $105.12 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.02 to settle at $105.44 a barrel Monday. It almost hit $107 per barrel earlier in electronic trading, the highest level since Sept. 26, 2008.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 79.85 points, or 0.7%, to close at 12,090.03 on Monday.

In currencies, the dollar was almost unchanged at 82.26 yen in Tokyo on Tuesday from 82.27 yen in New York late Monday. The euro was about even, at $1.3964 from $1.3963 in New York late Monday.