Energy giants lead losses as Asia stocks retreat

GMT 07:52 2015 Thursday ,03 December

Arab Today, arab today Energy giants lead losses as Asia stocks retreat

Despite a slight rise in oil prices on December 3, 2015
Hong Kong - AFP

Asian energy firms tracked losses in their US counterparts on Thursday, as crude prices tumble on the back of a supply glut and strong dollar ahead of a key meeting of the OPEC oil cartel.

Profit-taking also weighed on stocks following the previous day's gains, while the euro retreated further before a European Central Bank gathering that is expected to end with a boost to its already vast stimulus programme.

Oil prices plunged Wednesday after official figures out of Washington showed another sharp rise in US stockpiles and production, suggesting demand in the world's number two economy remains sluggish.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate sank 4.6 percent -- falling below $40 a barrel for the first time since August -- and Brent North Sea crude dived 4.4 percent.

The news hit big-name energy giant including ExxonMobil and Chevron, which were the Dow's biggest losers.

And despite a one percent lift in oil prices Thursday, Asia energy firms and miners turned negative.
Sydney-listed BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, fell three percent, Woodside Petroleum dropped 3.8 percent and Origin was 1.8 percent off. In Hong Kong, PetroChina dived one percent while CNOOC was 1.1 percent down.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index shed 0.4 percent in afternoon trade, Sydney gave up 0.6 percent and Seoul was 0.8 percent lower.

However, Shanghai stocks jumped 1.4 percent, a fourth-straight gain after diving Friday by 5.5 percent on news that some of China's top brokerages were being probed in the wake of a summer market rout. The index has now recovered almost all of last week's losses.

Tokyo recovered slightly from morning selling to end flat.

The losses on stock markets have been “magnified by the fall in the oil price, which was a reflection of nervousness ahead of the OPEC meeting”, Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy in Sydney at AMP Capital Investors, told Bloomberg News.

- 'Wait and see' -
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is due to meet at its Vienna headquarters Friday but analysts do not expect it to announce any reduction in output.

Oil prices have slumped from about $115 a barrel in the summer of 2014 to their present levels owing to record production levels, a slowdown in the global economy and a stronger dollar.

"I'm not happy with the oil prices," Iraq's oil minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi told reporters in the Austrian capital, cautioning however that no agreement had been reached on production. "We will wait and see," he added.

The greenback rallied Wednesday in New York after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen said she considered the US economy strong enough to withstand an interest rate rise.

Her comments virtually assure a hike at its next policy meeting this month following a slew of mostly strong data. The dollar jumped against the yen and euro in US trade.

However, while it eased back slightly against the Japanese unit in Tokyo, it moved higher against the European single currency as the ECB prepares further loosening of monetary policy with analysts suggesting the pair could reach parity in the new year.

“There’s a lot of anticipation of ECB easing and it seems to be pretty much the consensus that it will happen," Capital Investors' Oliver said.

"The US economy has had the training wheels support of ultra- easing monetary policy, and suddenly they’re being told by their parent -- the Fed -- it’s time to take them off. Naturally, the markets, like the child, are feeling nervous.”

- Key figures around 0730 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.01 percent at 19,939.90 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 22,387.56

Euro/dollar: DOWN to $1.0588 from $1.0619 in New York

Dollar/yen: DOWN to 123.46 yen from 123.81 yen

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.9 percent at 17,729.68 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 6,420.93 points (close)


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