Asia stocks flat, oil retreats


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets were little changed Tuesday after Wall Street closed nearly flat amid little market-moving news. Prices of oil retreated slightly after reports of a new OPEC meeting sparked a rally.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.1 percent to 16,669.12 and South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.2 percent to 2,035.97. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.3 percent to 22,416.01 while China’s Shanghai Composite Index stayed flat at 3,004.48. Stocks in Australia, Indonesia and Taiwan remained nearly unchanged.

CHINA DATA: China’s consumer price index gained 1.8 percent last month over a year earlier, slower than June’s 1.9 percent, Xinhua said citing the National Bureau of Statistics. The July figure is the third monthly drop in a row since April when the consumer price index reached its highest level since July 2014. The news came a day after China reported another fall in exports for the month of July as weak global demand hampered efforts to shore up Chinese trade.

OPEC MEETS: Amid little market-moving news, oil was in focus after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced Monday that oil ministers of the 14-nation organization will meet next month, well ahead of their previously scheduled November meeting. It is unusual for the OPEC to come together outside of their regularly set gatherings and the report pushed up the price of crude oil overnight.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “News that OPEC would be having a September meeting with certain members keen to push for supply cuts again served as the impetus for oil prices to rally. While a deal is highly unlikely to eventuate, the fact that it is even being mentioned shows how much difficulty the past month’s renewed sell-off was causing many struggling OPEC members,” Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG in Melbourne, Australia, said in a daily commentary.

WALL STREET: U.S. stock markets finished nearly unchanged on Monday, hovering just below the record highs they set late last week. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 14.24 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,529.29. The S&P 500 index dipped 1.98 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,180.89. The Nasdaq shed 7.98 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,213.14.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 22 cents at $42.80 per barrel in New York. The contract rose $1.22, or 2.9 percent, to close at $43.02 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 28 cents at $45.11 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 102.33 yen from 102.36 yen while the euro fell to $1.108 from $1.109.

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