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Asia-Pacific markets mixed; Singapore’s travel-related stocks jump after easing of Covid measures

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SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets struggled for direction on Thursday as investors reacted to yesterday’s 5% jump in oil prices.

Shares in Singapore outperformed the broader Asia-Pacific region, with the Straits Times index climbing 0.8% as the country’s prime minister on Thursday announced plans to ease Covid restrictions.

Shares of travel-related stocks were up, with Singapore Airlines and Sats, which provides ground-handling and in-flight catering services, jumping more than 2% each.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index were little changed in morning trade.

Shares of Chinese tech giant Tencent dropped around 3% in Hong Kong after the firm on Wednesday posted its slowest revenue growth on record. Tencent also said it is ‘exploring’ a financial holding company for WeChat Pay if required by Chinese regulators.

Other Chinese tech stocks in Hong Kong also declined, with Alibaba down 1.11% and NetEase slipping 0.79%.

In mainland China, the Shanghai composite declined 0.55% while the Shenzhen component shed 0.943%.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan declined 1.11%, shedding some of its 3% jump from Wednesday. The Topix index fell 0.99%.

South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.69%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.12%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.36% lower.

Oil watch

Investors monitored oil moves after prices rose on Wednesday.

In the morning of Asia trading hours on Thursday, international benchmark Brent crude futures rose 0.49% to $122.20 per barrel, still much higher than levels below $112 seen earlier in the week.

U.S. crude futures sat below the flatline, trading at $114.89 per barrel.

Oil prices have been volatile for weeks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as investors assess the war’s impact on oil supply along with other concerns such as a Covid outbreak in China.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 98.78 — still above the 98.4 level that is was below earlier this week.

The Japanese yen traded at 121.19 per dollar, weaker as compared with levels below 119.7 seen against the greenback earlier in the week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7484, having risen from below $0.74 earlier this week.

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