Asian shares edge up, crude plunge weighs on sentiment

Asian shares edge up, crude plunge weighs on sentiment

By Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares took solace from gains on Wall Street & edged higher on Tuesday, though gains were capped by caution over low share trade volume & plunging Brent crude oil prices ahead of this week's holidays.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> inched 0.1 percent higher in early trade, after Wall Street logged solid gains overnight following a losing week.

p> Japan's Nikkei stock index <.N225> was down 0.2 percent in early trade

U.S. & most European markets will close on Friday for Christmas. While Christmas is not a public holiday in Japan, markets will be closed on Wednesday to observe the emperor's birthday.

Brent crude oil futures skidded to a low of $36.04, their lowest price since July 2004, as demand for heating oil slumped on warmer-than-normal temperatures.

U.S. crude futures edged up approximately 0.1 percent to $35.85, holding above their 2009 low.

"The price of oil could fall below $30 a barrel yet we do not see much weakness beyond that & by the end of the year we expect prices to settle closer to $40," said Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy for BK Asset Management in New York, adding, "when the dollar peaks, commodities will bottom."

In the long run, she said in a note to clients, "China's focus on domestic demand should be positive for energy prices."

The dollar index <.DXY>, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six rival currencies, was steady at 98.463, yet below a two-week high of 99.294 marked on Thursday.

The dollar edged up approximately 0.1 percent to 121.21 yen , while the euro was nearly flat from late North American levels at $1.0911.

The euro rose on short covering on Monday following a weekend election in Spain, even after no party won a clear mandate in the euro zone's fourth biggest economy.

Spot gold took a breather from its recent gains & was steady at $1,077.96 an ounce after rising 1.2 percent on Monday & 1.4 percent on Friday as investors covered short positions ahead of the holidays.

(Reporting by Lisa Twaronite; Editing by Eric Meijer)

Commodity Marketscrude oil pricesJapan

Source: “Reuters”

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