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Asia markets trade lower as lower oil prices weigh

CNBC logo CNBC 11-08-2016 Saheli Roy Choudhury

Asia markets opened lower on Thursday, following U.S. losses, with sentiment likely driven by Wednesday's oil price falls and in anticipation of another data deluge from China on Friday.

In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 (.AXJO) was down 0.74 percent in early trade, with the financials, energy and materials sub-indexes down between 0.6 and 1.13 percent. Major banking stocks sold off, with shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA'A-AU) down some 2.2 percent.

New Zealand's NZX 50 (.NZ50C) was near flat at 7,342.43. In South Korea, the Kospi (.KS11) traded 0.27 percent lower.

Japanese markets were closed for the Mountain Day public holiday.

U.S. stocks closed lower, with the benchmark S&P 500 dropping 6 points as energy - the biggest laggard - dropped 1.4 percent.

Oil prices fell on Wednesday in the U.S. session, amid renewed oversupply concerns. U.S. crude futures fell 2.5 percent to $41.71 a barrel, while global benchmark Brent slipped 2 percent to $44.05. 

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Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.1 million barrels in the week ended August 5, in a third consecutive weekly build, Reuters reported. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 1 million barrel drawdown.

"Oil is increasingly pulling back towards the $40 a barrel level again and many in the markets are concerned that the shorts may even be looking for prices to drop down towards the $35 level," said Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at brokerage firm IG.

Adding to the supply glut concerns, OPEC's largest producer, Saudi Arabia, is pumping record amounts of oil, while Iran is resuming production faster than expected, suggesting neither country is likely to entertain the idea of an OPEC deal to control production.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's central bank cut its official cash rate (OCR) by 25 basis points to 2 percent on Thursday morning, in a move that was expected by market watchers, but some analysts said it wasn't enough to satisfy the market.

"The OCR was cut but it was not enough to satisfy the market, with the New Zealand dollar up and rates selling off," said economists Cameron Bagrie and Philip Borkin at ANZ Research. "Expectations were growing prior that we could see something substantial, but what we got was an entirely balanced and appropriate response in our view."

"The Reserve Bank of New Zealand's (RBNZ) policy assessment was similar to its special Economic Update just three weeks ago ... but the changes that were made were of the dovish ilk," Bagrie and Borkin said.

The New Zealand dollar (NZD=) traded higher against the greenback after the decision, reaching a session high of $0.7341, compared to levels near $0.7200 before. As of 8:18 a.m. HK/SIN, the Kiwi traded at $0.7304.

Elsewhere, the Bank of Korea is also expected to announce its monetary policy decision at 9 a.m. HK/SIN, while China is set to release industrial production, fixed asset investment and retail sales numbers on Friday.

CORRECTION:

This report has been updated to reflect that China is due to release industrial production, fixed asset investment and retail sales data on August 12.

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