“Crude oil prices fell sharply as stockpiles in the U.S. rose to their highest level since 2017,” ANZ bank said on Thursday, according to a Reuters report.
“This comes as U.S. refineries head into the spring maintenance period, stoking fears that crude oil demand will be soft and stockpiles will continue to rise,” it added.
Asian shares were mainly unchanged early on Thursday with Japan and China’s stock markets shut for holidays today.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was off 0.1 percent, trading in a tight band.
“Coming into May, the search for the next catalyst becomes an obvious necessary condition to give an answer to the traditional question: is it time to sell and go away?” Claudio Irigoyen, economist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch told Reuters.
Irigoyen was referring to a well-known adage, “sell in May and go away”, which warns investors to dump their equities holdings in May ahead of the northern hemisphere summer trading lull and switch to fixed income in a bid to maximize returns.
“We remain constructive that the recovery in China will translate into a recovery in the emerging market-export complex and Europe; the worst-case scenario will be avoided regarding Brexit and that the recent progress will materialize in a U.S.-China deal in 2Q,” Irigoyen added.
Middle East markets
Saudi Arabia’s index gained 0.6 percent on Wednesday with Umm Al Qura Cement the top gainer with a 9.9 percent.
Dubai's index slid 0.6 percent, with Emaar Properties falling 3.3 percent to a one-month low as the stock traded ex-dividend.
The Abu Dhabi index traded flat, reversing some early losses. ADNOC Distribution, the fuel distribution arm of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), gained 1.2 percent after reporting a 6.6 percent rise in its first-quarter profit.
Qatar's blue-chip index edged up 0.2 percent, helped by Doha Bank and Gulf International Services gaining 2.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.
Egypt and Bahrain's stock market were closed due to a public holiday, while Kuwait’s premier market index edged 0.1 percent lower and Oman’s index gained 0.5 percent.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was trading at 97.616.
Gold prices fell early on Thursday.
Spot gold shed 0.2 percent to $1,274.50 per ounce as of 0403 GMT, having fallen to $1,272.14, its lowest since April 24, earlier in the session.
(Reporting by Gerard Aoun; Editing by Mily Chakrabarty)
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