Asia-Pacific stocks struggle for direction; oil prices drop close to 2%

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific declined in Thursday trade, with Australia’s April trade surplus coming in higher than expected.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index led losses regionally as it declined 1.29%, with shares of Alibaba dropping 3%.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite slid 0.32% while the Shenzhen Component sat fractionally lower.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan shed 0.21% while the Topix index fell 0.58%. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.97%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.92%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.98% lower.

Oil drops more than 2%

Oil prices were lower in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 2.24% to $113.69 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dropped 2.39% to $112.50 per barrel.

Those losses came after the Financial Times reported Saudi Arabia is ready to pump more oil if Russian output declines. That comes after European Union leaders agreed earlier this week to ban most Russian crude imports by the end of the year.

Australia’s trade surplus widened to 10.495 billion Australian dollars ($7.525 billion) in April, data from the country’s Bureau of Statistics showed Thursday. That was higher than the surplus of 9.3 billion Australian dollars predicted in a Reuters poll.

Following the data release, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7169, still off levels above $0.72 seen recently.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 shed 0.75% to 4,101.23. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 176.89 points, or 0.54%, to 32,813.23. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.72% to 11,994.46.


The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 102.562 after a recent jump from below 102.

The Japanese yen traded at 130.09 per dollar, weaker as compared with levels below 128 seen against the greenback earlier this week.

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