Asian markets traded mixed on Wednesday morning, as oil prices remained under pressure after data overnight showed a build-up in U.S. crude inventory.
Australia’s ASX 200 was up by 0.1 percent but the energy sector declined 0.8 percent. Oil plays in the country were mostly lower, with Santos shares losing 0.9 percent, Oil Search down 0.6 percent and Beach Energy lower by 1.66 percent.
Oil prices declined by more than 1 percent on Tuesday after data showed a build-up in U.S. crude inventory. Reuters reported weekly data from the American Petroleum Institute estimated U.S. crude stockpiles surged 14.2 million barrels last week.
U.S. crude fell 1.6 percent to $52.17 a barrel on Tuesday and traded even lower at $51.38 on Wednesday at 8:15 a.m. HK/SIN. Global benchmark Brent lost 1.2 percent to $55.05 during U.S. hours on Tuesday.
Resources producer BHP Billiton also fell 0.92 percent, after reports said the miner planned to halt production at a Chilean copper mine due to a workers’ strike on Thursday. Reuters reported that BHP said it could not guarantee the safety of the 80 workers the Chilean government had authorized to remain at the Escondida mine to perform “critical duties” like equipment upkeep and adherence to environmental protocols.
In the currency market, the dollar traded relatively higher against a basket of currencies at 100.48 at 8:16 a.m. HK/SIN, climbing from levels below 100 in previous sessions.
“Over the past few days…slowly but surely the dollar has managed to crawl its way back up,” said Rodrigo Catril, a currency strategist at the National Australia Bank, in a note.
“To some extent, the dollar has won the least ugly context as the focus appears to have shifted away from the U.S. towards political and fiscal uncertainty in Europe,” said Catril.
Among other major currency pairs, the yen traded at 112.42 against the dollar, strengthening from levels above 113.4 last week, but a touch weaker from its last close at 112.37. The Australian dollar fetched $0.7615, while the euro traded at $1.0669.