Asian shares likely to track US losses

Asian stock market appear set for a lower open on the final trading of the week, tracking U.S. losses overnight after disappointing bank earnings and amid oil’s continued price slump. Australia’s key S&P ASX 200 (^AXJO) index slipped 0.5 percent in early trade, while the Australian dollar inched down 0.1 percent to fetch $ 0.8205 against the U.S. dollar.

Energy producers were on the back foot as oil resumed its slide; Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL-AU), Santos and Origin Energy (ASX:ORG-AU) opened down more than 2 percent, respectively, while Liquefied Natural Gas retreated 1.7 percent. Healthcare product maker Ansell (ASX:ANN-AU), which said its CEO was relocating away from the U.S. to the company’s office in Belgium, plunged 0.8 percent. Japan’s benchmark index could fall below the 17,000 level, after stock futures in Chicago traded at 16,815, while those in Osaka tanked 1.8 percent to 16,850, both below the Nikkei 225 (Nihon Kenzai Shinbun: .N225)’s previous close of 17,108. In the previous session, Japanese stocks posted their biggest daily gain in four weeks on the back of a weaker yen and a pause in falling oil prices. Overnight, U.S. stocks fell for a fifth day, with the S&P 500 finishing below 2,000 for the first time in a month. A surprise move by Switzerland’s central bank to abandon its three-year-old euro cap on the franc, also added volatility to markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Global Indexes: .DJI) fell 0.6 percent, while the S&P 500 (^GSPC) dropped 0.9 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) was the biggest loser for the day, shedding 1.5 percent.

Oil prices lost ground on Thursday, after a rebound in the previous session, following weak U.S. economic data.

U.S. crude declined $ 2.23 to settle at $ 46.25 a barrel, while Brent crude was down nearly $ 1 to trade around $ 48 a barrel.

Asia’s calendar China will release its foreign direct investment for the month of December at 0800 SIN/HK. In the previous month, the mainland attracted $ 58.6 billion of FDI in the first 11 months of the year, up 7.9 percent from the same period a year ago, and breaking four months of consecutive declines.

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