Asian shares slipped on Thursday as crude oil prices seesawed and Chinese shares dived, rekindling anxiety about the impact of high market volatility on the global economy on the eve of a G20 meeting in Shanghai.
Still, spreadbetters expected overnight gains on Wall Street to bolster European shares in early trading.
“A late rebound in U.S. trading saw U.S. markets reverse their losses as oil prices once again struggled to sustain a move below $30 a barrel. This rebound is likely to see European markets open strongly higher this morning,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
But MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.4 percent, with China’s main benchmarks .SSEC.CSI300 tumbling more than 6 percent as investors took profits after a recent rebound.
Japan’s Nikkei stock index .N225 ended up 1.4 percent as bulls got the upper hand as the yen moved away from its recent highs against the dollar.
Sharp Corp (6753.T) shares plunged 14.4 percent after initially jumping after its board decided to accept a takeover offer from Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (2317.TW), in what would be the largest acquisition by a foreign company in Japan’s insular technology sector.
Market players said investors have focused on the Feb 26-27 G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers in Shanghai as one potential catalyst for troubled, directionless markets.
“The IMF has suggested that members of the G-20 summit use the meeting as a means of discussing a coordinated policy response for what could otherwise be a crisis,” said Stefan Worrall, director of Japan equity sales at Credit Suisse in Tokyo.
“I think investors are closely watching the G-20 for any signs of a coordinated fiscal response.”
The dollar added about 0.1 percent against its Japanese counterpart to 112.25 yen JPY=, well off a two-week low of 111.04 yen plumbed overnight.
The euro rose about 0.2 percent to $1.1035 EUR= after touching a three-week low of $1.0957 overnight.
The British pound GBP= steadied, edging up to $1.3927 after dropping to a seven-year low of $1.3878 in the previous session on heightened fears that a June 23 referendum could lead to a British exit from the European Union.
U.S. crude futures CLc1 dipped about 0.7 percent to $31.93 a barrel, after gaining nearly 1 percent overnight as government data showed a jump in gasoline demand.
The sharp downturn in global oil prices has fed investor fears about slowing world growth, with broader concerns about China’s cooling economy adding to heightened anxiety and financial market volatility.
Brent crude for April delivery LCOc1 gave up 0.6 percent to $34.20 a barrel.
A late recovery in crude oil prices on Wednesday helped drag Wall Street higher at the close, after lackluster economic data weighed on sentiment for much of the session.
U.S. data showed the services sector contracted in early February for the first time since October 2013, suggesting a weakening of economic conditions beyond the troubled manufacturing and energy industries. Other data showed weakness in new U.S. single-family home sales, though the overall housing market recovery remains intact.
Spot gold XAU= erased early losses and rose about 0.7 percent to $1,237.50 an ounce, within sight of a one-year high of $1,260.60 reached on Feb. 11.
(Additional reporting by Joshua Hunt in Tokyo; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Eric Meijer)