Oil Retreat Weighs on Asian Energy Stocks as Dollar Loses Ground

Iran OilCrude oil being extracted from a well outside South Heart, North Dakota, on Feb. 10, 2012. Photograph by Daniel Acker

Oil extended its retreat from a seven-week high and Asian energy shares declined, while the dollar weakened versus major peers as traders weighed prospects for a U.S. interest-rate hike this year. European equity index futures advanced.

Crude sank below $47 a barrel in New York, dragged down by possible increases in supplies from Iraq and Nigeria, and the MSCI Asia Pacific Energy Index of shares fell for a fourth day. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index snapped its biggest two-day advance in a month as South Korea’s won led gains in emerging markets. New Zealand’s currency strengthened after its central bank said the pace of interest-rate cuts in the nation will be gradual. U.S. Treasury bond volatility was near a 20-month low.

Financial markets have been dominated over the past week by speculation about the timing of the Federal Reserve’s next increase in borrowing costs and an air of caution is evident before Chair Janet Yellen speaks Friday at an annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Regional Fed presidents including William Dudley and John Williams indicated last week that a rate hike could come as soon as next month, while futures prices indicate a 51 percent chance of such a move this year.

“With investors waiting for Yellen, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a strong direction in the stock market,” said Toshihiko Matsuno, a senior strategist with SMBC Friend Securities Co. in Tokyo. Still, “oil, which had been rebounding, has started to correct again,” dragging down commodity-related shares, he said.

Preliminary gauges of this month’s manufacturing activity in the euro area and the U.S. are scheduled for release on Tuesday, while central banks in Turkey and Hungary have policy meetings. A report is also forecast to show sales of new homes in America held near an eight-year high in July.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery slid 1 percent to $46.92 a barrel as of 7:05 a.m. London time. Militants in Nigeria have made a proposal to end hostilities, a development that could boost the nation’s oil output, and Iraq is in the process of boosting crude exports by about 5 percent.

WTI crude jumped 9.1 percent last week, buoyed by speculation that informal talks among major producers next month will bring about an output freeze.

“We’re seeing a bit of profit-taking,” said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “There is still plenty of supply around. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this downtrend continue and it’s possible we could see some sort of basing around $44 to $45 a barrel.”

Gold held near a one-week low, while silver added 0.6 percent. Zinc advanced as much as 1.2 percent in London after Morgan Stanley said it was bullish and that demand from China’s steel industry would continue to support the price. The metal, which is used to galvanize steel, has surged more than 40 percent this year.

Stocks

A gauge of energy stocks on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was down 0.9 percent, the biggest loss among 10 industry groups. Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil and gas producer, dropped by 1.2 percent.

Japan’s Topix index fell for the first time in three days, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced to a two-week high. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index declined 0.3 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent.

Trading volumes in Tokyo and Hong Kong were down more than 15 percent from their 30-day averages, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Futures on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index added 0.4 percent, while those on the S&P 500 Index were little changed. Contracts on the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index gained 0.5 percent.

Currencies

The Dollar Spot Index lost 0.2 percent, after jumping 0.6 percent over the last two trading days. South Korea’s won strengthened 0.9 percent versus the greenback, rebounding from its weakest close of the month, and the Japanese yen rose 0.2 percent.

About the Author

Samed Olukoya
Samed Olukoya is the CEO/Founder of investorsking.com, a digital business media, with over 10 years' experience as a foreign exchange research analyst and trader. A graduate of University of East London, U.K. and a vivid financial markets analyst.

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