Asian shares hover near nine-month low on trade worries

Investors worried about trade tensions between the United States and China

  

Global markets

Asian shares hovered near a nine-month low in early trading on Thursday as investors worried about trade tensions between the United States and China.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.25 percent to a nine-month low in early trade while Japan’s Nikkei shed 0.30 percent.

MSCI’s broadest gauge of the world’s stock markets fell to its lowest level in almost three months, on course to post its fourth month of loss in the last five. Its emerging market index hit the weakest level since mid-August.

“Initially investors saw Trump’s moves as negotiation tactics to get better deals. But now they are starting to worry about the damage to the economy,” Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities, told Reuters.

Middle East markets

Stock markets in the Middle East were mixed on Wednesday.

The Saudi market added 0.2 percent as Al Marai, the Gulf's largest dairy company, rose 2.9 percent and Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) gained 0.9 percent.

Dubai’s index fell 0.7 percent as Drake & Scull (DSI) shares plunged 10 percent for a third consecutive day to close at 0.73 dirhams ($0.19) per share, its lowest ever. DSI said on Wednesday that there was no reason for its stock to be plummeting and that its current projects were on track.

Emaar Properties, the largest listed stock on the Dubai market, fell for a second consecutive day to close down 1.8 percent.

DAMAC Properties declined 1.4 percent. Union Properties, which said on Wednesday that it had no exposure to private equity company Abraaj, rose 4.5 percent.

Neighbouring Abu Dhabi’s index fell 0.5 percent, as Dana Gas declined 1 percent after disclosing on Wednesday that it holds $6 million in a fund managed by an affiliate of Abraaj Investment Management Limited.

Qatar's index gained 0.4 percent, with Barwa Real Estate and Qatar Electricity and Water Co. rising 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)

Egypt’s index fell 0.1 percent, Oman’s index rose 0.1 percent, while Bahrain’s index rose 0.3 percent and Kuwait’s index rose 0.1 percent.

Oil prices

Oil prices retreated early on Thursday after reaching three-and-a-half year high in yesterday’s sessions.

Supply disruptions in Libya and Canada have limited losses in oil prices.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $72.54 a barrel at 0253 GMT, down 22 cents, or 0.3 percent from their last settlement. WTI hit its highest since November 2014 at $73.06 per barrel in the previous session.

Brent crude futures were at $77.54 per barrel, down 8 cents from their last close.

Currencies

Trade tensions between the United States and China kept the U.S. dollar steady against its rivals on Thursday.

The dollar changed hands at 110.26 yen, up slightly but well within its narrow trading range over the past month.

Precious metals

Gold hovered close to an over six-month low hit in the previous session.

Spot gold dropped 0.5 percent to $1,252.75 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 0.44 percent to $1,254.40 an ounce.

(Writing Gerard Aoun; Editing by Shane McGinley)
(gerard.aoun@thomsonreuters.com)

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