Oil prices suffer more losses, stocks mixed

AFP , Tuesday 16 Aug 2022

Oil prices extended losses Tuesday after below-par US and Chinese data reinforced recession expectations, while equities were mixed as traders debate whether the data will allow central banks to temper their interest rate hikes.

Oil prices
A motorist pumps gasoline at United Oil gas station in Los Angeles Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. AP


Wall Street provided a strong lead as tech firms were supported by bets that the Federal Reserve will not lift borrowing costs by 75 basis points for a third straight meeting next month.

Both main crude contracts dropped again, having lost around three percent the day before, as demand expectations are lowered in light of a string of soft economic indicators in major economies.

Signs that Iran is moving towards a nuclear deal added to the downward pressure on prices, with an agreement seen as allowing the country to restart oil sales into the world market.

Analysts said Tehran could provide 2.5 million barrels a day, giving a much needed shot in the arm to supplies, which have been hammered by sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Libya has also boosted production, helping prices drop to six-month lows and wiping out the gains seen after the Ukraine war started.

But analysts warned that there might still be some way to go on an Iran agreement, owing to upcoming US elections.

"A deal with Iran would likely not be popular with US voters and so is hard to envisage before the November mid-terms," said National Australia Bank's Ray Attrill.

"Markets are currently prone to optimism, though, and hopes for a deal... have added to downward pressure on oil prices."

With surging oil prices a key driver of inflation to multi-decade highs around the world, the drop has fanned hopes that the headline figure could begin to come down.

That has led to speculation that central bank chiefs could lift rates at a slower pace, and then think about pivoting monetary policy to cuts as early as next year.

The prospect of a less painful hiking campaign has sparked a rally in equities from their June lows.

But while Asia built on Wall Street's upbeat performance in the morning, some markets were unable to maintain momentum.

Shanghai edged up with Sydney, Seoul, Mumbai, Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok and Wellington, while Tokyo and Taipei were barely moved. Hong Kong sank more than one percent and Singapore was also down.

London, Paris and Frankfurt rose in the morning.

Analysts warned that, while equities are enjoying a bounce, the economic outlook could keep them subdued or even make them fall back again.

"The risk of the markets going below the June lows is quite high," Shane Oliver, at AMP Services, told Bloomberg Television. The weak data presage "weaker earnings growth ahead in the US", he added.

Key figures at around 0810 GMT

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.8 percent at $88.71 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.0 percent at $94.14 per barrel

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: FLAT at 28,868.91 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.1 percent at 19,830.52 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,277.88 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,537.17

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0155 from $1.0166 Monday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2050 from $1.2055

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.28 pence from 84.29 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 133.73 yen from 133.33 yen

New York - Dow: UP 0.5 percent at 33,912.44 (close)

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