Asian stocks were mixed early Tuesday as a seven-year low in oil dragged energy and commodity shares in Australia but boosted prospects of companies elswhere. Japan gained after revising third-quarter growth from negative to positive, avoiding recession.
Australia's ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent. BHP Billiton, which has oil reserves aside from being the world's biggest miner, fell 4 percent. Oil producers Malaysia and Indonesia haven't opened yet.
Japan's Nikkei 225 rose as much as 0.10 percent before giving up some gains, Singapore's STI 0.8 percent and South Korea's KOSPI 0.2 percent.
Oil fell below $38 per barrel, the lowest in more than six years, after Saudi Arabia refused to cut production at last week's meeting of OPEC member nations. Oil, which was above $100 per barrel in the first half of last year, has been falling since the middle of last year as rising production, helped by fracking in the U.S., met weak demand, including from a slower-growing China economy. It's been under $50 per barrel starting in August.
“We’re plunging with the dawn of an OPEC without quotas,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York hedge fund, as Bloomberg reported. “The Saudis doubled down on their strategy of driving out higher-cost producers. They are prepared to play a long game to return to dominance.”
Japan on Tuesday said the economy grew 0.1 percent in the third quarter, revising the 0.8 percent decline it estimated last month. That means it didn't have two successive declines, the common definition of a recession.
“Japan’s economy is back on a recovery track after a soft patch," said Hiroaki Muto, chief economist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center Co. in Tokyo, as Bloomberg reported. “The recovery is nowhere near what you’d call strong, but we don’t have to be too pessimistic either.”