Asian stocks slipped as the dollar advanced on Thursday after hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reinforced the case for an interest rate hike later this month.
Australian shares fell 0.6 percent and South Korea’s Kospi .KS11 shed 1 percent. Shares in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore also declined.
Shanghai shares .SSEC bucked the trend and were last up 0.5 percent, brushing aside a Caixin/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index showing China’s services sector growth cooling in November. Weak indicators often stir hopes of government stimulus, providing a burst of support for Chinese shares.
Japan’s Nikkei .N225 eased from 3-month highs and stood nearly flat, bound in narrow range as a wait-and-see mood prevailed ahead of the European Central Bank’s policy decision due later in the session.
Fighting stubbornly low inflation, the ECB is expected to deliver measures that could include a deposit rate cut and changes to its asset-buying program.
“The ECB’s decision will likely set the direction for the Japanese market tomorrow and beyond, but it’s also true that the market is seen overbought recently,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.
MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.5 percent after Wall Street slid overnight on Yellen’s comments.
The Fed chair said Wednesday she was “looking forward” to a U.S. interest rate hike that will be seen as a testament to the economy’s recovery.
Her comments come after expectations for a Fed rate hike at the central bank’s Dec. 15-16 policy meeting were slightly shaken by poor manufacturing data released earlier in the week.
However, faith in the U.S. economy was partially restored by Wednesday’s stronger-than-expected ADP private employment report. ECONUS
The dollar index advanced to a 12-1/2-year high of 100.51 .DXY following Yellen’s comments and the upbeat data. It last stood at 100.13.
The euro dipped 0.2 percent to $1.0594 EUR= as the markets braced for the ECB.
“There is great potential for euro volatility as the ECB announces its policy decision, followed by the press conference by President (Mario) Draghi starting 45 minutes later,” wrote Sean Callow, a senior strategist at Westpac.
“Draghi and selected colleagues have clearly signaled that there is sufficient risk of undershooting the ECB’s inflation target to warrant further loosening of monetary settings.”
While the prospects of further ECB easing dogged the euro, expectations of added stimulus have lifted European stocks. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3touched a 3-month high this week.
In commodities, crude oil bounced modestly on bargain hunting following a tumble overnight prompted by surging U.S. stockpiles and a stronger dollar.
U.S. crude CLc1 was up 1.2 percent at $40.43 a barrel after tumbling 4 percent overnight. Crude was still capped with OPEC widely expected not to opt for a production cut at Friday’s meeting despite a global supply glut.
Spot gold XAU= stooped to $1,045.85 an ounce, its lowest since February 2010. Higher interest rates would diminish the allure of non-yielding gold and a stronger greenback makes the dollar-denominated metal more expensive for buyers.
Industrial metals also remained under pressure amid global oversupply and shrinking Chinese demand, with spot iron ore prices plumbing 10-year lows this week.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange CMCU3 was down 0.5 percent at $4,540.50 a ton. Copper edged back toward a 6-year low of $4,443.50 touched late last month with pleas for Chinese government intervention providing little tonic.
China’s major copper producers asked the government this week to buy the metal, joining a growing chorus in the country’s base metal industry that is pleading for state intervention.
Unlocking Investments into Africa’s Renewable Energy Market
The African Energy Guarantee Facility (AEGF) is launching a virtual roadshow of free webinars allowing a deeper understanding of risk issues for renewable energy projects on the continent, and conversations around risk mitigation solutions. The first webinar will take place on Thursday, 23 September from 14:30-16:00 hrs. EAT.
The session will be oriented on how to get more energy projects from the drawing board to the grid. While the energy demand in African economies is expected to nearly double by 2040, and although the potential for renewable energy is 1,000 times larger than the demand, only 2GW out of almost 180GW of this new renewable power were added on the African continent.
Clearly not good enough! To improve the situation within the next two decades, new solutions need to be implemented urgently. De-risking and promoting private sector investments will play a crucial part of it.
In this 90-min interactive session, AEGF partners: the European Investment Bank (EIB), KfW Development Bank, Munich Re and the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) will share their experience and provide valuable insights on how they were able to come together and design practical solutions for investors and financiers of green energy projects in Africa aligned with SDG7 objectives.
Across Africa, the complexity of renewable energy projects and their long tenors hold back crucial energy investment. Tailored to the specific needs and risk profiles of sustainable energy projects, AEGF will tackle the investment challenge by providing underwriting expertise and capacity tailored to market needs.
The AEGF will significantly boost private investment in sustainable energy projects, both expanding access to clean energy and contribute to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals. The scheme supports new private sector investment in eligible renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
Shell Signs Agreement To Sell Permian Interest For $9.5B to ConocoPhillips
Shell Enterprises LLC, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc, has reached an agreement for the sale of its Permian business to ConocoPhillips, a leading shales developer in the basin, for $9.5 billion in cash. The transaction will transfer all of Shell’s interest in the Permian to ConocoPhillips, subject to regulatory approvals.
“After reviewing multiple strategies and portfolio options for our Permian assets, this transaction with ConocoPhillips emerged as a very compelling value proposition,” said Wael Sawan, Upstream Director. “This decision once again reflects our focus on value over volumes as well as disciplined stewardship of capital. This transaction, made possible by the Permian team’s outstanding operational performance, provides excellent value to our shareholders through accelerating cash delivery and additional distributions.”
Shell’s Upstream business plays a critical role in the Powering Progress strategy through a more focused, competitive and resilient portfolio that provides the energy the world needs today whilst funding shareholder distributions as well as the energy transition.
The cash proceeds from this transaction will be used to fund $7 billion in additional shareholder distributions after closing, with the remainder used for further strengthening of the balance sheet. These distributions will be in addition to our shareholder distributions in the range of 20-30 percent of cash flow from operations. The effective date of the transaction is July 1, 2021 with closing expected in Q4 2021.
Shell has been providing energy to U.S. customers for more than 100 years and plans to remain an energy leader in the country for decades to come.
Oil Gains 1 Percent on Possible Tight Supply
Oil prices rose on Tuesday as analysts pointed to signs of U.S. supply tightness, ending days of losses as global markets remain haunted by the potential impact on China’s economy of a crisis at heavily indebted property group China Evergrande.
Brent crude gained 95 cents or 1.3% to $74.87 a barrel by 0645 GMT, having fallen by almost 2% on Monday. The contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) , which expires later on Tuesday, was up 91 cents or 1.3% at $71.20 after dropping 2.3% in the previous session.
Global utilities are switching to fuel oil due to rising gas and coal prices, and lingering outages from the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ada that imply less supply is available, ANZ analysts said.
“While slowing Chinese economic growth and uncertainty around the (U.S.) Fed’s tapering timetable weighed on market sentiment, other developments still point to higher oil prices,” ANZ Research said in a note.
Still, investors across financial assets have been rocked by the fallout from heavily indebted Evergrande (3333.HK) and the threat of a wider market shakeout in the longer term.
“Evergrande’s woes are threatening the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy and making some investors question China’s growth outlook and whether it is safe to invest there,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
While that view of the state of China’s economy is weighing on markets, the U.S. Federal Reserve is also expected to start tightening monetary policy – likely to make investors warier of riskier assets such as oil.
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