Business

HONG KONG (APP) – Asia stocks took a breather on Thursday after a rally during the previous session, but energy firms were mostly up after oil surged past $50 a barrel for the first time this year.

Investors seemed to brush off another strong lead from Wall Street and Europe, treading softly as the Group of Seven leaders’ summit kicked off in Japan, where the sputtering global economy is likely to feature in discussions prominently.

Markets around the world rallied on Wednesday as investors welcomed a debt relief deal for Greece, bright German data, easing concerns of a Brexit and firmer oil prices.

Traders were also beginning to adjust to news of a possible US interest rate hike come June or July, analysts said, viewing it as an indication of economic strength.

But on Thursday morning, Hong Kong was down 0.3 percent after surging by 2.7 percent during the previous session, while Shanghai dropped 0.9 percent.

Sydney, Seoul and Taipei flat-lined, but Tokyo was up 0.3 percent by the break while Manila tumbled 1.3 percent.

Energy firms again saw some big gains after oil passed $50 a barrel in Asia for the first time in months on the back of overnight data showing a fall in US crude inventories and adding to expectations of a more constrained global market.

In its weekly report, the Department of Energy said that US commercial crude oil inventories fell by 4.2 million barrels in the week to May 20.

“The immediate driver is a good draw on US crude stockpiles, helping to nudge the price up a bit further,” Ric Spooner, a chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.

“The market hasn’t had any bad news to knock it off its perch but the price is likely to struggle if it gets into the $50s. There is still quite a bit of inventory around.”