Asian Equities Struggling as Oil Steadies

Asian shares struggled to stay positive on Tuesday after downbeat economic data pressured Wall Street ahead of a key U.S. jobs report that could provide important clues to the timing of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increase.  Crude oil prices firmed after plunging overnight, with U.S. crude CLc1 adding about 0.7 percent to $45.48 a barrel. Brent LCOc1 gained 0.7 percent to $49.84 after skidding 5 percent to six-month lows.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was slightly lower, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index .N225 slipped 0.1 percent, after breaking a three-day winning streak in the previous session.  China stocks were higher in early trade, with the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC and the CSI300 index .CSI300 both firmer. Beijing has taken a raft of steps to support Chinese share markets after they lost more than 30 percent of their value since peaking in June.

U.S. equities markets stumbled overnight, after manufacturing data from China and the U.S. both disappointed.  The Institute for Supply Management’s index of national factory activity slipped to 52.7 in July, falling short of expectations that it would match last month’s reading of 53.5.