Asia Markets: Asian markets mixed, though energy stocks surge

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Asian stock markets were mixed early Wednesday, as rising oil prices and trade tensions continued to set the tone for trading

Japan’s Nikkei NIK, -0.41%   fell 0.5%, with oil consumers lagging on crude’s overnight pop following a U.S. official’s comments warning the world to end Iranian oil imports or face sanctions. Major shipper Mitsui OSK 9104, -3.33%   was down 3.4% while airline operator ANA 9202, -1.55%   fell 1.6%. Conversely, energy stocks were up with oil explorer Japan Petroleum Exploration 1662, +1.92%   rising 1.9% and distributor JXTG 5020, +1.99%   climbing 2%.

Chinese stocks opened little changed, a day after the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.00%   hit fresh two-year lows and entered bear-market territory to join Shenzhen index 399106, +0.04%   at least 20% below their most recent highs.

Hong Kong stocks started slightly higher, as the Hang Seng HSI, -0.02%   looked to end its slump after closing down seven of the past nine days to hit six-month lows. Insurer AIA 1299, +0.37%   was 0.4% higher, while energy stocks jumped, with CNOOC 0883, +5.88%   5.7% higher and PetroChina 0857, +2.11%   up 1.9%.

China’s largest steel-trading platform filed an IPO application in Hong Kong, with Zhaogang.com said to be seeking to raise around $500 million. The move marks the third major Chinese company with a dual-class structure to seek a listing in Hong Kong following recent rule changes, following smartphone maker Xiaomi and Chinese tech startup Meituan.

South Korea’s Kospi reversed early gains, as losses by automakers and steelmakers outweighed gains by tech companies. Posco 005490, -1.46%   fell while Samsung 005930, +0.53%   gained.

Stocks in Malaysia FBMKLCI, +0.26%  , Singapore STI, +0.31%   and Taiwan Y9999, +0.38%   were up modestly, as were benchmarks in Australia XJO, +0.04%   and New Zealand NZ50GR, +0.37%  .