Global Markets Get Off to a Slow Start -- Update

By Gregor Stuart HunterFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Asia-Pacific equities got off to a slow start Tuesday, even as higher oil prices pushed up shares of energy producers and other commodity stocks.

The global Brent oil benchmark rose above $65 a barrel for the first time since June 2015 following news that a major European pipeline--used in calculating prices for Brent--will shut temporarily after a fracture was found.

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February Brent futures, which climbed 2% Monday, rose another 0.8% in Asian trading to $65.22.

That helped Australia's S&P/ASX 200 to rise, though less than 0.1%, with the energy sector climbing 0.9%. Meanwhile, a gauge of Chinese energy producers listed in Hong Kong rose 0.7%. The Hang Seng Index was also up less than 0.1%.

The Nikkei Stock Average ended the morning session up slightly, with oil producer Inpex jumping 2.7%.

The U.S. dollar edged back against the yen to Yen113.45 from Yen113.55.

Elsewhere, New Zealand's benchmark eased 0.3% after logging its 42nd record closing high of 2017. Korea's Kospi fell 0.4%, though Samsung Electronics was higher.

Chinese stocks retreated a bit, even after credit data released Monday showed bank lending increased more than expected in November, as some money left the shadow-banking sector.

The lending data showed that global investors' recent worries about a sharp slowdown in Chinese growth may have been premature, said Andy Rothman, investment strategist at fund manager Matthews Asia.

"One of the reasons people were getting nervous about the Chinese equities market is that they think that the selloff is induced by people who fear the government efforts to de-risk the financial sector is going to result in a significant credit tightening," he noted. "But there's no evidence of that happening yet. People are getting worked up about nothing here."

Meanwhile, market participants are awaiting cues from global central banks. The Federal Reserve's two-day meeting starts later Tuesday. On Wednesday, a quarter-point rate increase is expected to be announced. The European Central Bank and the Bank of England also meet this week.

Bitcoin prices slipped after Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton warned about the risks to retail investors in the red-hot cryptocurrency. Prices were recently around $16,650, according to CoinDesk, after nearing $17,400 in late New York trading.

Write to Gregor Stuart Hunter at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 11, 2017 22:32 ET (03:32 GMT)