Asian Shares, Oil Prices Head Higher
Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index was up 0.08 percent at 1:06 p.m. HK/SIN, heading towards the 17th consecutive day of gains, an unprecedented winning streak for the index that set the index at a 21-year high. The Nikkei’s rally was bolstered by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s electoral victory last Sunday and the understanding that he will continue to maintain his hyper-easy “Abenomics” program to stimulate and reform Japan’s economy.
The relative strength of the U.S. stock markets has also lent support to Japanese markets, as has the depreciation of the yen in mid-September, which made Japanese goods more affordable. Though the Nikkei 225 has gained 14.08 thus far in 2017, analysts are now questioning just how much further there is to climb before a pullback begins.
Most other major global indexes were also higher during Wednesday’s Asian session. The Shanghai Composite was up 0.12 percent, South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.21 percent and Australia’s ASX 200 was 0.11 percent higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all ended higher on Tuesday.
Oil Prices Edge Up
Oil prices were steady on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih announced that the country will remain committed to reducing oil stocks in industrialized countries to their five-year average, even after the OPEC production cut ends in March 2018. There is also a chance that OPEC will extend its production cut pact until more stable results are achieved.
Brent crude futures were up 0.12 percent to $58.40 per barrel, though U.S. WTI futures were down 0.11 percent to $52.41 per barrel. The American Petroleum Institute announced on Tuesday that U.S. crude stocks increased by 519,000 barrels last week, negating the expectations for a 2.6 million-barrel decline. Gasoline inventories, however, declined by 5.8 million barrels, far surpassing analysts’ expectations for a 17,000 barrel drop. Official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration will be released later on Wednesday.