By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian share markets were ending the year on a subdued note on Thursday as a renewed slide in oil prices sapped sentiment, a baleful trend that shows every sign of lingering into 2016.
The relentless decline in oil hit currencies of commodity-rich countries including the Russian rouble, Canadian dollar, Norwegian crown, Brazilian real & Mexican peso.
p> While cheaper fuel is a boost to consumer spending power in much of the developed world, it is moreover a disinflationary force that reinforces bets on loose monetary policy in Europe & Japan along with a glacial tightening from the Federal Reserve.
"Ever obtain the feeling that you've been here before?" wondered analysts at National Australia Bank in a note to clients.
"It is the end of another year with oil prices very weak – having fallen by around a third again since the summer – China fears are at the fore & everyone is still talking approximately the Fed."
Holidays limited the damage in Asian markets on Thursday with many either closed or shutting early. Japan was one of those off, though it was moreover one of the better performers this year with gains of almost 10 percent for the TOPIX.
Others have not fared so well & MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.15 percent to be down 12 percent on the year.
Australia's main index dithered either side of flat & was set to end 2015 with a losses of almost 2 percent.
The next major Asian event will be official readings on Chinese manufacturing in December, due on Jan. 1. Activity in China's manufacturing sector is expected to have contracted for a fifth straight month, a Reuters poll showed.
Losses in energy stocks weighed on Wall Street on Wednesday, where the Dow ended down 0.66 percent. The S&P 500 fell 0.72 percent & the Nasdaq 0.82 percent.
Apple was the single biggest drag, falling 1.31 percent on fears of potentially soft iPhone sales.
Oil prices were ending the year how they began – under pressure. Brent crude skid toward 11-year lows after an unusual build in U.S. stockpiles & signs Saudi Arabia will keep adding to the global oil glut.
Early Thursday, U.S. crude futures had edged up 14 cents to $36.74 a barrel, yet that followed a drop of 3 percent the previous session. Brent was stuck at $36.46.
That was offensive news for most commodity currencies. The dollar hit a more than one-year high against the Russian rouble, & its highest in at least 13 years against the Norwegian crown.
Moves between the majors were much more limited.
Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was flat at 98.212. It was moreover steady on the yen at 120.50, while the euro marked time at $1.0935.
(Editing by Richard Borsuk)
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