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Asian Stocks Slump Amid Rising Yen

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Stocks

The global equity bear market deepened in Asia, with Japanese stocks suffering their worst week since 2008 amid anxiety over central banks’ ability to revive the world economy. European stock-index futures signaled gains as oil rose from a 12-year low.

The Topix index slumped 5.4 percent in Tokyo as traders returned from holiday, pushing the regional Asian benchmark toward its steepest weekly drop since gyrations in Chinese assets at the start of the year. The yen was set for its strongest two-week advance since 1998. U.S. index futures also flagged a rebound after losses there helped the MSCI All-Country Index cap a 20 percent slide from its May record.

“We’re in a moment where Peter Pan thinks he can’t fly any more,” said Ryuta Otsuka, a strategist at Toyo Securities Co. in Tokyo. “When everyone thinks they can’t fly, we’re doomed. There’s nothing we can do but to try and overturn that sentiment.”

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said regulators will respond to market volatility if necessary after a move to negative rates failed to assuage anxieties last month. A stronger yen threatens to imperil the world’s third-largest economy through disinflation and lower profits for exporters. Investors ignored a second day of testimony from Janet Yellen, whose indication that the Federal Reserve won’t rush to raise interest rates failed to stem a selloff in riskier assets.

Stocks

The MSCI’s Asia Pacific Index was down 2.8 percent as of 7:08 a.m. London time, on track for a weekly decline of 5.9 percent. The Topix has lost 12.6 percent this week, the most since October 2008. Nomura Holdings Inc. plunged 9.2 percent to the lowest level since December 2012. While Japan resumed trading after a Thursday break, markets in mainland China, Taiwan and Vietnam remain closed for Lunar New Year holidays.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 1 percent, the Kospi index in Seoul slipped 1.4 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index sank 1.2 percent.

Futures on the Euro Stoxx 50 index were up 0.7 percent, while those on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rallied 0.3 percent. The S&P 500 reduced a slump of as much as 2.3 percent to close down 1.2 percent in afternoon trade.

Trading in South Korea’s Kosdaq exchange for smaller stocks was halted for 20 minutes after the benchmark gauge plunged more than 8 percent on concern valuations were excessive relative to earnings prospects. Celltrion Inc. slid 12 percent, paring its gain this year to 18 percent. The stock was among the 10 biggest gainers in Asia in 2015. Kakao Corp. tumbled 7.9 percent.

Currencies

The yen gained 0.3 percent to 112.14 per dollar. Japan’s currency has strengthened at least 2 percent against all its 31 major peers since Jan. 29 amid demand for haven assets. Government officials expressed concern at the moves, fueling speculation Japan may intervene.

“The verbal intervention has already started, with Ministry of Finance officials talking about moves being rough, which looks like the new code word for undesired strength,” said Ray Attrill, co-head of currency strategy at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Sydney. “110 might be some line in the sand when the MOF will lean on the BOJ to shore things up.”

Higher-yielding and developing nation currencies weakened. The New Zealand dollar fell 0.6 percent to 66.76 U.S. cents, while the Malaysian ringgit dropped 0.5 percent, the Thai baht slid 0.8 percent and the South Korean won lost 0.7 percent.

Bonds

Japan’s 10-year government bond yield rose 7 basis points to 7.5 basis points after falling below zero earlier this week. The similar U.S. Treasury yield rose three basis points to 1.69 percent. The Markit iTraxx Asia index of credit-default swaps rose two basis points to 183, the highest since 2012. That for Japan climbed five basis points to 107.

Commodities

Oil rebounded amid the most volatile prices since 2009 as speculation swirls over whether producers will act to bolster the market. Futures climbed as much as 5.9 percent and were recently up 4.1 percent.

Gold retreated 0.4 percent after a 4.1 percent surge on Thursday. Bullion is set to climb 5.9 percent this week, the most since 2011, as investors flee a bear market in global stocks, a weakening dollar and the fallout from negative interest rates. Nickel rose 0.9 percent after slumping 3.6 percent on Thursday to the lowest close since 2003.

Bloomberg

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Crude Oil

Brent Crude Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel on Friday

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Crude oil

Nigerian Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel Following OPEC+ Production Cuts Extension

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $69 on Friday at 3:55 pm Nigerian time.

Oil price jumped after OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to role-over crude oil production cuts to further reduce global oil supplies and artificially sustain oil price in a move experts said could stoke inflationary pressure.

Brent crude oil rose from $63.86 per barrel on Wednesday to $69 per barrel on Friday as energy investors became more optimistic about the oil outlook.

While certain experts are worried that U.S crude oil production will eventually hurt OPEC strategy once the economy fully opens, few experts are saying production in the world’s largest economy won’t hit pre-pandemic highs.

According to Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental, U.S oil production may not return to pre-pandemic levels given a shift in corporates’ value.

“I do believe that most companies have committed to value growth, rather than production growth,” she said during a CNBC Evolve conversation with Brian Sullivan. “And so I do believe that that’s going to be part of the reason that oil production in the United States does not get back to 13 million barrels a day.”

Hollub believes corporate organisations will focus on optimizing present operations and facilities, rather than seeking growth at all costs. She, however, noted that oil prices rebounded faster than expected, largely due to China, India and United States’ growing consumption.

The recovery looks more V-shaped than we had originally thought it would be,” she said. Occidental previous projection had oil production recovering to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022. The CEO Now believes demand will return by the end of this year or the first few months of 2022.

I do believe we’re headed for a much healthier supply and demand environment” she said.

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Crude Oil

Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts

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opec

Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $67.70 per barrel on Thursday following the decision of OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to extend production cuts.

OPEC and allies are presently debating whether to restore as much as 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil in April, according to people with the knowledge of the meeting.

Experts have said OPEC+ continuous production cuts could increase global inflationary pressure with the rising price of could oil. However, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “I don’t think it will overheat.”

Last year “we suffered alone, we as OPEC+” and now “it’s about being vigilant and being careful,” he said.

Saudi minister added that the additional 1 million barrel-a-day voluntary production cut the kingdom introduced in February was now open-ended. Meaning, OPEC+ will be withholding 7 million barrels a day or 7 percent of global demand from the market– even as fuel consumption recovers in many nations.

Experts have started predicting $75 a barrel by April.

“We expect oil prices to rise toward $70 to $75 a barrel during April,” said Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president of macro oils at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “The risk is these higher prices will dampen the tentative global recovery. But the Saudi energy minister is adamant OPEC+ must watch for concrete signs of a demand rise before he moves on production.”

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Gold

Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin

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Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges

Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.

The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.

The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.

We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.

Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.

Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.

In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.

 

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