|23 May, 2019

Thursday outlook: Asian shares trade near four-month low

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan touched its lowest in four months and was last down 0.7%

Image used for illustrative purpose.

Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Issei Kato
  • Asian shares drop again on trade tensions
  • Brent crude futures retreat 0.5 percent
  • Dubai’s index gains 1.8 percent
  • Dollar, gold prices steady

Global markets

Asian shares dropped again on Thursday on trade tensions between the United States and China.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan touched its lowest in four months and was last down 0.7%.

“Both the U.S. and China appear to be preparing for a prolonged period of trade conflict,” wrote analysts at Nomura in a note on the standoff, according to a Reuters report.

“We think domestic pressures and constraints will drive both sides towards further escalation,” they warned. “Without a clear way forward during an intensifying 2020 U.S. presidential election, we see a rising risk that tariffs will remain in effect through end 2020.”

Oil prices

Oil prices followed equities lower amid surging U.S. crude inventories.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $70.62 per barrel at 0109 GMT, down 37 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down by 31 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $61.11 per barrel.

The Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday that U.S. crude oil inventories rose last week, hitting their highest levels since July 2017, due to weak refinery demand.

“Rising inventories and a slowdown with refined product demand could suggest we could see further pressure (on prices),” Edward Moya, senior analyst at futures brokerage OANDA, told Reuters.

Middle East markets

Dubai's index closed 1.8% higher on Wednesday with all its real estate shares gaining. Emaar Properties added 2.6% and market heavyweight lender Emirates NBD was up 2.8%.

The Abu Dhabi index slipped 0.7% led by a 1.7% drop in First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country's largest lender.

Saudi's index increased 0.5%. Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development soared 7.9% and Sahara International Petrochemical surged 5.6%.

Qatar's index gained 0.6% with blue-chip petrochemical maker Industries Qatar trading 1.4% higher.


The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was steady at 98.111.

Precious metals

Gold prices were also steady early on Thursday.

Spot gold was steady at $1,273.37 per ounce as of 0251 GMT, after falling to $1,268.97 on Tuesday - its lowest level since May 3.

U.S. gold futures edged down 0.1% to $1,272.80.

(Reporting by Gerard Aoun; Editing by Mily Chakrabarty)


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