• Oil prices drop on lower Chinese factory activity
  • Asian shares retreat on comments by U.S. trade representative
  • Qatar’s index loses 1.2 percent, Egypt’s index drops 0.8 percent
  • Dollar edges higher, gold retreats

Oil prices

Oil prices retreated early on Thursday as factory activity in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, dropped for the third straight month in February.

International Brent crude futures were at $66.15 per barrel at 0248 GMT, down 24 cents, or 0.4 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.92 per barrel, down 2 cents from their last settlement.

Global markets

Asian shares dropped in early day trading on comments from comments from the United States’ Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Lighthizer said on Wednesday it was too early to predict an outcome in talks between Washington and Beijing, according to a Reuters report.

“Lighthizer’s comments trimmed a bit of the trade resolution hopes which had grown recently, and equities are exposed to some downward pressure,” Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management, told Reuters.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped in and out of the red, while South Korea’s KOSPI shed 0.25 percent and Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.35 percent.

Middle East markets

Dubai’s index edged 0.3 percent lower as Emaar Development dropped 3.8 percent and developer Deyaar lost 3.5 percent.

Abu Dhabi's index rose 0.2 percent, with Dana Gas climbing 3.4 percent and First Abu Dhabi, the biggest lender in the United Arab Emirates, adding 0.7 percent.

Saudi Arabia’s index edged up 0.2 percent with Leejam Sports rising 6.2 percent to end as the top gainer. The company posted higher full-year net profit and sales.

Qatar’s index dropped 1.2 percent with 16 of its 20 stocks dropping.

The Egyptian blue-chip index lost 0.8 percent, pulled down by financial stocks.

Kuwait’s blue-chip index added 0.7 percent, Bahrain’s index edged 0.3 percent higher and Oman’s index gained 0.6 percent.


The dollar rebounded on Thursday as equities dropped.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, last traded a shade higher at 96.100.

Precious metals

Gold prices dropped on a stronger dollar.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,318.06 per ounce as of 0132 GMT, after touching its lowest since February 15 at 1316.43 in the previous session.

U.S. gold futures were flat at $1,321.40 an ounce.

(Reporting by Gerard Aoun; Editing by Mily Chakrabarty)


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