SINGAPORE — Shares in Australia and Japan struggled for gains on Friday where trading volume is expected to be low as many markets in the region are closed for the start of the Lunar New Year holiday.
In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 dipped 0.21%, with the financials, energy and materials subindexes struggling for gains.
The country’s so-called Big Four banks traded mixed. Shares of ANZ reversed earlier losses to trade up 0.12%, Commonwealth Bank shares also erased losses to climb 0.34%, Westpac traded lower by 0.13% and the National Australia Bank lost 0.12%.
The Japanese market resumed trading after being closed Thursday for a public holiday. The Nikkei 225 declined 0.22% while the Topix index dipped fractionally lower.
Currencies and oil
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded near flat against a basket of its peers. The dollar index last stood at 90.417, a touch higher than its previous close at 90.371.
The Japanese yen changed hands at 104.74 per dollar, on par with its last close at 104.72, while the Australian dollar traded near flat at $0.7753.
Oil prices fell in the overnight session where OPEC and the International Energy Agency warned about demand recovery being hindered by renewed coronavirus-related lockdowns.
Global benchmark Brent fell 0.5% to $61.14 a barrel while U.S. crude declined 0.8% to $58.24.
Reuters reported OPEC saying that world oil demand in 2021 will rebound slower than previously expected while the IEA said global oil supply was still outstripping demand but Covid-19 vaccines should help demand recover.