Advertisement
|26 November, 2018

Monday outlook: Asian stocks edge up, as oil steadies below $60

The optimism in Asia was not reflected in the Middle East on Sunday, as the oil price slump took hold. More commentary on currencies and precious metals

Image used for illustrative purpose. A sculpture made of discarded metal oil barrels is seen at the Instituto Mexicano del Petroleo (Mexican Institute of Petroleum) metro station in Mexico City, February 15, 2015. Saudi Arabia's oil exports have risen in February in response to stronger demand from customers. As OPEC's top producer battles for market share Reuters photographers around the globe have been photographing oil barrels to document how they are utilised once the fuel has been used. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

Image used for illustrative purpose. A sculpture made of discarded metal oil barrels is seen at the Instituto Mexicano del Petroleo (Mexican Institute of Petroleum) metro station in Mexico City, February 15, 2015. Saudi Arabia's oil exports have risen in February in response to stronger demand from customers. As OPEC's top producer battles for market share Reuters photographers around the globe have been photographing oil barrels to document how they are utilised once the fuel has been used. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

REUTERS/Tomas Bravo
  • Oil prices steadied on after plunging nearly 8%
  • Asian shares edged higher on Monday
  • Wall Street hit its lowest close in more than six months on Friday
  • Saudi banks and petchem stocks the big losers in the Gulf
  • Dollar held broad gains, while gold was little changed

Following what has been dubbed ‘Black Friday’, when oil prices plunged nearly 8 percent at the end of last week, the outlook was decidedly more upbeat on Monday morning, with oil steadying and Asian shares edging upwards.

However, market observers will be looking ahead to the end of the week when American President Donald Trump will meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for talks on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina, in what some analysts are calling “the biggest event for the rest of the year".

Oil prices

Oil prices steadied on Monday after plunging nearly 8 percent in the previous session, but remain under pressure with Brent crude below $60 per barrel amid weak fundamentals and struggling financial markets.

Advertisement

Front-month Brent crude oil futures were at $59.23 per barrel at 0202 GMT, up 43 cents, or 0.7 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures, were up 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $50.53 per barrel.

Oil markets are also being affected by a downturn in wider financial markets.

"2018 clearly marked the end of the 10-year Asia credit bull market due to tightening financial conditions in Asia (especially China), and we expect this to remain the case in 2019," Morgan Stanley said in a note released on Sunday, Reuters reported.

"We don't think that we are at the bottom of the cycle yet," the bank said.

Global markets

Despite the concerns, Asian shares edged higher on Monday. However, markets are also bracing for a crucial meeting between the United States and Chinese leaders at the end of the week as trade tensions between the economic superpowers showed no signs of easing.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.4 percent, led by gains in Taiwan shares following local elections, while Japan's Nikkei also advanced 0.6 percent.

In China, the Shanghai composite index ticked up 0.3 percent.

On Wall Street, U.S. stocks lost ground on Friday, with the benchmark S&P 500 down 0.66 percent, hitting its lowest close in more than six months as the energy sector was sold off in the wake of the oil slump.

In Europe, a survey on Friday showed euro zone business growth has been much weaker than expected this month as slowing global economic momentum and a U.S.-led trade war have led to a sharp fall in exports.

IHS Markit's Flash Composite Purchasing Managers' Index for the euro zone fell to 52.4 in November, its lowest since late 2014.

"The U.S.-China trade conflict poses a downside risk as we forecast the U.S. to impose 25 percent tariffs on all China imports by Q1 2019," U.S. bank J.P. Morgan said in a note published on Friday, Reuters reported.

Middle East

The optimism in Asia was not reflected in the Middle East on Sunday. London-based Capital Economics estimated last week that the slide in Brent oil price from $85 a barrel at the start of October to below $65 has wiped $130 billion, or 9 percent of gross domestic product, off the Gulf's oil export revenues on an annualised basis.

With Brent now below $60, governments may become more cautious about spending and could resort to borrowing more, putting pressure on local banks’ liquidity, and the private sector may become less willing to invest for the long-term, Reuters reported.

The Saudi stock index sank 1.3 percent on Sunday as all 12 banking stocks and 13 of 14 petrochemical stocks dropped, with the biggest, Saudi Basic Industries, losing 1.7 percent. The only petchem to gain was Saudi Arabian Fertilizers, up 0.8 percent.

Anaam Holding surged 4.5 percent in its heaviest trade since September 2012. It had jumped its 10 percent limit on Thursday after it signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to buy real estate and commercial assets owned by Abdullah Abbar & Sons Cold Stores and Dar Al Abbar Co.

Other Gulf markets fell more modestly on Sunday, with Dubai losing 0.6 percent as Shuaa Capital dropped 3.7 percent.

Abu Dhabi's index fell 0.8 percent as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank slipped 2.7 percent, while Qatar's index dropped 0.7 percent as petrochemical producer Industries Qatar retreated 1.0 percent.

Kuwait edged up just 0.03 percent, Bahrain was down 0.2 percent, Oman fell 0.6 percent and Egypt tumbled by 3.8 percent.

Currencies

The dollar held broad gains on Monday as investors sought shelter in the world's most liquid currency on fears of a slowdown in global economic growth and as U.S.-Sino trade tensions sapped risk appetite.

The greenback, considered a safe haven currency, advanced as last week's capitulation in oil prices raised investor concerns that the global economic recovery was losing steam.

The British pound changed hands at $1.2819, gaining 0.05 percent versus the dollar. European Union leaders sealed a Brexit pact on Sunday calling it the 'best possible' deal that Britain could have got.

"If there is some sort of truce which comes out of this deal, we will see money coming out of the safe haven dollar," Rodrigo Catril, senior FX strategist at National Australia Bank, told Reuters.

"This would bode well for the riskier currencies such as the Aussie, kiwi dollar and the Asian emerging market currencies."

The yen traded with a strong bias in early Asian trade on Monday. The Japanese currency traded within a very tight range of less than 100 pips last week.

The dollar is expected to remain in an uptrend against the yen, with the Fed on a monetary tightening path, while the Bank of Japan remains committed to its ultra-loose monetary policy due to low growth and inflation.

This interest rate differential between U.S. and Japanese bonds makes the dollar a more attractive bet than the yen.

Analysts also believe another factor supporting the dollar is Japanese investors remaining heavily invested in U.S. and other foreign assets.

The euro traded marginally lower at $1.1335. The single currency lost 0.7 percent versus the greenback last week as traders reacted to weak economic data out of the common area.

Precious metals

Gold prices were little changed on Monday with investors looking to the G20 meeting this week for signs of a thaw in the Sino-U.S. trade conflict, although a stronger dollar amid fears of a slowdown in global growth weighed on bullion.

Spot gold was little changed at $1,222.36 per ounce at 0114 GMT and U.S. gold futures were flat at $1,223.3 per ounce.

(Writing by Shane McGinley; Editing by Michael Fahy)
(shane.mcginley@refinitiv.com)


Gain a deeper understanding of financial markets through Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. The content does not provide tax, legal or investment advice or opinion regarding the suitability, value or profitability of any particular security, portfolio or investment strategy. Read our full disclaimer policy here.

© ZAWYA 2018