Asian markets: China Shanghai Composite gains as oil prices decline
Asian stock market indices were trading in a mixed patternReuters

Asian stock market indices were trading in a mixed pattern, with China's Shanghai Composite Index up 1.55% at 3,000.85 on Monday, 21 March at 5.49am GMT. The decline comes after three consecutive weeks of gains and follows a decline in oil prices. Investors seemed to remain cautious over the downturn in the commodity.

While global economic worries, especially the China slowdown, led to the US Federal Reserve keeping its interest rates unchanged, investors are understood to be expecting a cut in interest rates by Beijing as pressure on the yuan eases.

Francis Cheung, China strategist at brokerage CLSA, opined that Beijing could be encouraged to boost its economy with a string of stimulus measures following the latest move by the US Fed. He said an interest rate cut could be expected from Beijing in the second quarter of 2016.

Indices in the rest of Asia traded as follows on 21 March at 5.57am GMT:

CountryIndexUp/Down%Change
Hong KongHang Seng Index20,685.30Up0.07%
JapanNikkei 225 (Holiday - Vernal Equinox Day)
South KoreaKOSPI1,989.08Down0.15%
IndiaCNX Nifty7,643.80Up0.52%
AustraliaS&P/ASX 2005,166.60Down0.32%

On the outlook for Asian markets, Cheung pointed to the relatively cheap valuations and said: "We see this rally continuing until the second quarter with property materials, internet and industrials sectors in demand." Meanwhile, on Friday (18 March), the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,602.30, up 0.69%, while the FTSE 100 closed lower by 0.19% at 6,189.64.

Among commodities, oil prices declined after the US rig count increased for the first time since December 2015. The data renewed fears of an oil oversupply. On 21 March, WTI crude oil was trading 1.42% lower at $38.88 (£26.96, €34.52) a barrel, while Brent was down 0.61% at $40.95 a barrel at 6.08am GMT.