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May 16, 2017 07:28 AM IST | Source: CNBC

Asian markets mixed following 2% jump in oil prices; dollar softer

The Kospi added 0.3 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.38 percent, due largely to gains in its energy sub-index, which was up 0.9 percent.

Asian markets were mixed in Tuesday trade, following the bounce in oil prices after the energy ministers of Russia and Saudi Arabia announced output cuts should be extended till March 2018 and as investors largely shrugged off US political news on President Donald Trump.

US West Texas Intermediate crude jumped more than 3 percent during the session yesterday following the news. Saudi Arabia and Russia are the world's top two oil producers.

US crude gained 0.55 percent to trade at USD 49.12 a barrel while Brent crude added 0.44 percent to trade at USD 52.05.

"An extension of OPEC and Russia's oil production cuts for another nine months should put a floor under the oil price in the mid-USD 40 range as the market inches gradually towards balance," CMC Markets Chief Market Analyst Ric Spooner said in a Tuesday morning note.

"While the threat of increased shale oil production may mean that the markets also struggles to achieve traction above the mid-USD 50 range ... the likely limitation to downside risk will serve as a confidence booster for the oil and gas producers."

The Nikkei 225 gained 0.52 percent and traded at its highest levels since December 2015. In an exclusive interview with CNBC, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that his country would continue pushing for a trans-Pacific trade deal, but he hoped the US would rejoin the pact.

The Kospi added 0.3 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.38 percent, due largely to gains in its energy sub-index, which was up 0.9 percent.

Greater Chinese markets were lower in early trade. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was down 0.14 percent. The Shanghai Composite fell 0.66 percent and the Shenzhen Composite dropped 0.699 percent.

Meanwhile, Moody's downgraded the corporate rating of Singapore-listed Noble Group. The reasons for the downgrade was Noble's "weak operating cashflow and large debt maturities over the next twelve months," Moody's Senior Analyst Gloria Tsuen said in a note.

Noble Group shares gained 2.54 percent after slumping more than 20 percent last week.

Investors were also mulling the potential economic policy impact of a Washington Post report that Trump divulged highly classified information during his meeting with Russian officials last week.

Officials told the Post that the information was sensitive and that its exposure endangered the relationship with an ally. This ally, officials told the Post, "has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State."

The White House through National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster later denied the report. "At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly."

The dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of foreign currencies, sank to trade at 98.842. It had traded at levels around the 99 handle last week.

This was due to strength in the euro, which rose for a fourth consecutive session to trade at $1.0986. The greenback gained against the yen for a second straight session, last trading at 113.61.

Meanwhile, the Aussie strengthened against the dollar to trade at USD 0.7432. The Aussie had touched a near four-month low last week due to weaker commodity prices. The New Zealand dollar also climbed against the dollar, last trading at USD 0.6906.

Prices of other commodities, including copper and aluminium, tracked the moves in oil, National Australia Bank Currency Strategist Rodrigo Catril said in note, adding that this "helped commodity-linked currencies outperform." He added that the Kiwi and Aussie had given up some gains as oil prices eased overnight.

In economic news, minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) May meeting are expected at 9:30 am HK/SIN. A deluge of data from Europe is also expected during the European trading day, with the UK reporting CPI and PPI figures and Europe releasing Q1 GDP data at 4:30 pm and 5:00 pm respectively.

Over in the US, equities rose more than 0.4 percent across the board, with energy stocks contributing to the gains. The S&P 500 finished the session 0.48 percent higher while gains in tech and cybersecurity stocks caused the Nasdaq to rise 0.46 percent.
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