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Asian markets gain on higher energy stocks

Asian markets gain on higher energy stocks

Most Asian stock markets rose Tuesday as a jump in oil prices boosted energy stocks, with Japan's Nikkei index eking out a modest gain in the last session of a year that was the worst on record for that country's stocks.
Oil prices climbed above $40 a barrel as Israel showed no sign of relenting in its offensive against Hamas strongholds in Gaza, raising tensions in the oil-rich Middle East.
Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average closed an abbreviated session up 112.39 points, or 1.3 percent, at 8,859.56 but for the year was down 42 percent _ its worst annual performance ever as a strong yen and the global downturn hit key exporting stocks.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 1.1 percent at 14,485.27, South Korea's Kospi gained 1.9 percent to 1,138.46 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.4 percent to 3,671. Markets in Singapore and mainland China fell slightly.
Analysts said trade was extremely thin as many investors have already closed positions for the year.
"We can't read much into the moves we are seeing today because of the low volumes," said Song Seng Wen, head of research at CIMB in Singapore. "With tensions rising in the Middle East, energy stocks are being boosted and it's an opportunity to push prices up a bit as the year draws to a close," he said.
China's manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index for December will provide an important cue for Asian markets leading into the New Year because it will indicate to what extend demand for the country's exports has continued to wane, said Song.
The data is due Wednesday but most markets won't react until later in the week because of holidays.
Oil's rise above $40 boosted energy and resources stocks around the region. In Australia, BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, rose 3.2 percent, and rival Rio Tinto advanced 2.1 percent.
Japanese oil and gas explorer Inpex Corp. jumped 5.1 percent in Tokyo trade and Singapore-listed commodities trader, Noble Group, rose 2 percent.
Markets in the Philippines were closed for a holiday.
Middle East tensions dented the dollar with the euro rising 0.5 percent to $1.4095.
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AP Business Writer Tomoko Hosaka in Tokyo contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-01 00:02 GMT+08:00