Global markets shuddered as turmoil emanating from China spread around the world and billionaire George Soros warned of a crisis.
Chinese shares fell 7 percent within a half hour of opening, triggering a full-day trading halt, after the central bank cut the yuan’s reference rate by the most since August. Other equity markets tumbled, with European shares falling the most since September and U.S. futures indicating a lower open. Commodities weren’t spared as crude headed for its lowest settlement in 12 years. Haven assets gained, with Treasuries rising for a sixth day, the yen reaching a four-month high and gold surging.
“China has a major adjustment problem,” Soros said Thursday at an economic forum in Colombo, Sri Lanka. “I would say it amounts to a crisis. When I look at the financial markets there is a serious challenge which reminds me of the crisis we had in 2008.”
Contagion from China helped wipe $2.5 trillion off the value of global equities in the first six days of this year as the nation’s tolerance for a weaker currency is viewed as evidence that policy makers are struggling to revive an economy that’s the world’s biggest user of energy, metals and grains. The World Bank cut its global growth forecasts for this year and next as China’s slowdown prolongs a commodity slump and contractions endure in Brazil and Russia. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne plans to highlight a “dangerous cocktail” of global threats faces the British economy this year.
The Hang Seng China Enterprises gauge of mainland shares listed in Hong Kong tumbled 4.2 percent, its lowest close since October 2011. The Hang Seng Index dropped 3.1 percent.
The Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 7.3 percent before trading was suspended. New circuit breakers, which kicked in on Monday, have been criticized by analysts for exacerbating declines as investors scramble to exit positions before getting locked in by the halts.
After the stoppage, the securities regulator announced rules to limit selling by major shareholders when a ban expires this week. The watchdog also held an unscheduled meeting on the tumbling stock market without coming to a decision on policy action, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
“The Chinese yuan is smack bang at the heart of concerns,” Chris Weston, chief market strategist in Melbourne at IG Ltd. “For risk assets to stabilize and sentiment to turn around, we are going to need a stable or even positive move in the Chinese currency. It’s clear that the market is becoming increasingly concerned by the global inflation outlook.”
The offshore yuan swung from a 0.3 percent gain to a 0.7 percent loss and back in the space of about 30 minutes in early activity in Hong Kong’s freely-traded market. It was subsequently 0.4 percent higher versus the greenback, while the onshore rate weakened 0.6 percent.
“We saw aggressive intervention in the offshore yuan market,” said Zhou Hao, an economist at Commerzbank AG in Singapore. “We don’t really understand the rationale behind the market movements in the past few days. Obviously, these movements have reminded us of the market rout last year.”
The central bank is considering new measures to prevent high exchange-rate volatility in the short term, according to people familiar with the matter.
China’s foreign-exchange reserves slid more in December than forecast, capping their first-ever annual decline, as authorities sought to prop up a weakening yuan.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 3.2 percent at 1:07 p.m. in London, as all but 10 stocks fell. Commodity producers and carmakers, among those with the most sales exposure to China, led declines.
Anglo American Plc tumbled 9.6 percent and ArcelorMittal slid 6.1 percent, dragging a gauge of miners to its lowest level since 2009. A measure of energy producers also fell to a near six-year low, with Royal Dutch Shell Plc dropping 6.2 percent, the most since August.
Daimler AG, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG each lost at least 4.5 percent, helping pull Germany’s benchmark DAX Index below 10,000 for the first time since October.
The VStoxx Index measuring volatility expectations in euro-area shares jumped 17 percent, heading for its biggest weekly advance since April.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 2.2 percent, after the U.S. benchmark slipped Wednesday to its lowest level in three months.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index retreated 2.1 percent. Benchmark stock indexes in Australia, Japan, Singapore and Thailand all lost more than 2 percent.
The yen, which has been the best-performing major currency so far this year amid the demand for safe-haven assets, rose as much as 1 percent to its strongest level since August versus the dollar.
The pound fell to the weakest level since June 2010, touching $1.4555. The U.K. currency slid 1 percent to 74.46 pence per euro. It has fallen every day this week against the dollar. Disappointing manufacturing and services data added to the view that the Bank of England will have to keep its benchmark interest rate lower for longer.
The Aussie tumbled 0.8 percent to 70.13 U.S. cents, and touched 70.09, its lowest since Oct. 2. It fell more than 3 percent through Wednesday, its worst start to any year since currency controls were scrapped in December 1983, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Bloomberg Commodity Index dropped 0.7 percent, headed for its lowest close since 1999.
West Texas Intermediate crude slid 3.3 percent to $32.86 a barrel, poised for the lowest settlement since February 2004. Crude supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for U.S. crude, climbed to an all-time high, government data showed Wednesday. Brent oil will slump to $30 in the next 10 days, according Nomura Holdings Inc., while UBS Group AG sees an oversupply pushing prices even lower.
Copper retreated 2.6 percent in London to the lowest since Nov. 24 and zinc slumped 3.6 percent. Cocoa for March delivery fell for a fifth day to an eight-month low on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. Gold rose as much as 0.8 percent to a two-month high of $1,102.85 an ounce.
Yields on 10-year Treasury notes fell one basis points to 2.16 percent, after earlier touching the lowest since October. Japanese government bond futures advanced to a record high after 30-year notes were auctioned at a higher price than dealers forecast. South Korea’s 10-year yield fell to a record low as the weakening yuan dimmed the outlook for exports to China and North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, conducted on Wednesday, spurred demand for safer assets.
Germany’s 10-year break-even rate, a gauge of the market’s outlook for inflation, tumbled to the lowest level since February amid concerns that the rout in commodity markets would subdue price-growth.
The cost of insuring investment-grade corporate debt climbed to the highest since Oct. 6. The Markit iTraxx Europe Index of credit-default swaps on highly rated companies rose four basis points to 85 basis points. The Markit iTraxx Europe Crossover Index of default swaps on junk-rated companies jumped 16 basis points to 351 basis points, the highest since Dec. 15.
Energy producers led losses in developing-nation stocks, driving the MSCI Emerging Markets Index down 2.7 percent. Benchmark gauges in South Africa, Thailand, the Philippines and Abu Dhabi slid more than 2.5 percent and those for Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Qatar tumbled at least 3 percent. Russian markets were closed for a holiday.
A gauge tracking 20 emerging-market currencies dropped for a fifth day, headed for its longest losing streak since October. The rand in South Africa, which counts China as its biggest trading partner, tumbled 1.5 percent to a record low. Russia’s ruble slid 1.1 percent in offshore trading while Mexico’s peso and Brazil’s real slid at least 0.6 percent.
Oil Slips With Energy Prices in Europe Halts Record Rally
Oil dipped toward $72 a barrel in New York after prices of energy commodities in Europe halted a record-breaking run.
West Texas Intermediate futures fell 0.6%, having reached the highest intraday level since early August on Wednesday. A rally in European gas and power prices to unprecedented levels was set to end as industries were starting to curb consumption. The surge in energy rates could temporarily boost diesel demand by as much as 2 million barrels a day as consumers switch fuels, according to Citigroup Inc.
Still, the bullish signals for oil are continuing to increase. U.S. crude inventories dropped by more than 6 million barrels last week to a two-year low, according to government figures, as coronavirus vaccination programs permit economies to reopen. Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth warned that the world is facing high energy prices for the foreseeable future.
The investor optimism is showing up in key oil time spreads widening. Trading of bullish Brent options also surged to a two-month high on Wednesday.
Prices have been pushed higher in recent days “by supply outages combined with expectations of switching from gas to oil in the power sector,” said Helge Andre Martinsen, a senior oil market analyst at DNB Bank ASA. “We still believe in softer prices toward year-end and early next year as curtailed production returns and OPEC+ continues to increase production.”
Strong prices for gas, liquefied natural gas and oil are expected to last “for a while” as producers resist the urge to drill again, Chevron’s Wirth told Bloomberg News. Norway’s Equinor ASA said Thursday it also expects European gas prices to remain high over winter.
Fuel Scarcity: Petrol Sells N220 Per Litre in Nsukka
Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise called petrol, now sells for between N200 and N220 per liter at the independent marketers’ service stations in Nsukka, Enugu State.
The News Agency of Nigeria is reporting the hike in the price against the official pump price of N162 per liter.
It said it started about a fortnight ago due to the scarcity of the commodity in the town and its environs.
Some residents of the town expressed deep worry over the development in separate interviews with NAN on Wednesday.
A civil servant, Stephen Ozioko, said the situation had further compounded the economic difficulties in the area.
Ozioko said many private car owners had been compelled to park their vehicles at home and move around in public transport.
He said: “Since the scarcity started, I decided to park my car and take public transport to the office and back home. N220 per liter is exorbitant and I cannot afford it considering my salary as a civil servant. I shall continue to use public transport until the situation returns to normal.”
A building material dealer, Timothy Ngwu, said the development had also led to an increase in transport fare in the area.
Ngwu said: “Some people now trek from Nsukka Old Park to Odenigbo Roundabout because of the 100 percent hike in fares from N50 to N100 by tricycle.
“Before now, transport fare from Nsukka to Enugu was N500, but transporters now charge between N800 and N1000.”
Also, a commuter bus driver, Victor Ogbonna, described the scarcity and hike in the price of petrol as “unfortunate and an ugly development”.
Ogbonna added: “Today, only a few filling stations are selling the commodity in Nsukka town, while others are shut.”
He alleged that some filling stations, which claimed to be out-of-stock, were selling to black marketers at night.
He said: “This is why black marketers have sprung up everywhere in the town, selling the commodity for about N300 per liter.”
NAN reports that virtually all the major marketers in the area have stopped the sale of petrol, claiming to be out-of-stock.
The people called on the government to urgently intervene in order to bring the situation under control and also put an end to its harsh economic effects on the messes.
DPR Targets N3.2T Revenue by Year-End
Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) will hit the N3.2 trillion revenue target by December 2021, according to its Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sarki Auwalu.
Auwalu made the disclosure when he led a delegation of the DPR management team to the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Mr Bello Gusau, in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that 70 percent of the revenue projection had already been met. “Last year, we exceed our revenue budget. We were given N1.5 trillion but we were able to generate N2.7trillion.
“This year, our revenue budget was N3.2 trillion. By the end of August 2021, we have generated up to 70 per cent.
“So, we with September, October, November and December, it is only the 30 per cent that we will work over,’’ he said
He noted that the government took advantage of fiscal terms within the old and new legislation, thereby creating a level of increased signature bonuses.
“We reorganise the work programme that is normally being done in the DPR to key into the new operational structure as we see it in the bill, now an act.
“That programme is being handled by the planning and strategic business unit as against what we use to have because the entire work programme is supposed to show not only technical but also commercial and viability of oil fields and to guarantee the return on investment for investors.
“We have also created an economic value and benchmarking unit to key into the new fiscal provisions of the PIA,’’ he said.
Commenting on capacity, Auwalu said the country stands at the advantage of exporting skills to emerging oil and gas countries across Africa with proper implementation of the newly passed Petroleum Industry Act.
This, he said, the DPR was ready to partner with the Fund to continue to build capacity in the oil and gas sector
He noted that the Federal Government was determined to create leeway that would encourage investors and drastically improve the nation’s petroleum industry.
He further noted that no fewer than 300 legal battles in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, which had been stalled for the past 20 years in courts, had been resolved through alternative dispute resolution.
According to Auwalu, the DPR is strategising well to ensure effective implementation of the PIA.
Responding, Gusau commended the DPR for enabling the industry and enhancing business activities in the oil and gas sector.
He said that DPR remained the head of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria adding that the Fund was grateful to benefit from the wealth of ideas from DPR.
“The last time we visited, we had a good discussion and issues raised are being implemented like tracking the inflow of funds in signature bonus accounts.
“We extended the meeting and involved ministry of Finance, Accountant General office and even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Sitting at field development plans and attending significant meetings, helped us to know where and what the industry is trying to do and it also helps to inform our decisions in training and capacity plans,’’ he said
He urged the DPR to continue on its effort to ensure an efficient and productive petroleum industry in Nigeria
He assured collaboration with all as the head of the implementation committee of the Petroleum Industry Act. (NAN)
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