Asian stocks followed U.S. shares higher ahead of a meeting of finance chiefs from the Group of 20 countries as a weaker yen buoyed Japanese equities.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.3 percent to 119.76 as of 9:02 a.m. in Tokyo, headed for a 0.1 percent increase this week. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 1.1 percent in New York Thursday to close at its highest since Jan. 6 and West Texas Intermediate crude rose 2.9 percent, as a rout in Chinese equities failed to spread. Focus turns to the G-20 meeting from Friday in Shanghai as volatility in markets unsettles investors this year.
“With the upcoming G-20 meeting, we may well see a lot of talk and little action,” said Niv Dagan, Melbourne-based executive director at Peak Asset Management LLC. “What we’d like to see is a coordinated approach from the G-20 to boost spending and produce some sense of certainty for markets. Investors remain cautious. We are not seeing too many companies increasing their profit guidance and investors are happy to sit on their hands.”
Japan’s Topix index rose 1.1 percent, with all 33 industry groups advancing, as the yen traded at 113.14 per dollar after falling 0.7 percent Thursday.
South Korea’s Kospi index gained 0.4 percent and New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index slid 0.1 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.4 percent.
Sharp Corp. sank 11 percent in Tokyo. Hours after winning a board vote to take control of the Japanese electronics maker, Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group said it wouldpostpone signing a definitive agreement because of “new material information.” This refers to about 350 billion yen ($3.1 billion) of contingent liabilities at Sharp, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.
Woolworths Ltd. fell 2.1 percent in Sydney after Australia’s largest supermarket chain posted a first-half loss and appointed Brad Banducci as chief executive officer to turn around the company’s fortunes.
Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.7 percent in most recent trading and contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland Chinese firms listed in the city advanced 1.2 percent. Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index added 0.5 percent.
The Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 6.4 percent on Thursday as surging money-market rates signaled tighter liquidity and the offshore yuan declined for a fifth day. Central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan is set to speak in Shanghai Friday as governments and private sector analysts continue to downgrade their outlook for the world economy amid China’s slowdown, tumbling oil prices and tepid demand.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index added 0.2 percent on Friday, trimming its decline over the past year to 26 percent. John-Paul Smith, one of few to anticipate the slump in developing markets that began in 2011, sees no sign of a turnaround and says the current environment resembles that of the late 1990s, when crises in Southeast Asia and Russia roiled the entire asset class.
Futures on the S&P 500 added 0.1 percent. The underlying U.S. equities gauge rose to a seven-week high Thursday as banks and consumer-staples shares climbed amid optimism on the economy after data showed weakness in manufacturing may be easing. A report showed orders for U.S. capital goods rebounded in January by the most since June 2014. Orders for all durable goods rose 4.9 percent, the most since March.
The MSCI Asia Pacific gauge trades at 12.7 times estimated earnings, below its average for the past five years. The gauge slumped 14 percent from the start of the year through the low on Feb. 12 and has since rallied 6.4 percent.
Crude Oil Dips Slightly on Friday Amid Demand Concerns
On Friday, global crude oil prices experienced a slight dip, primarily attributed to mounting concerns surrounding demand despite signs of a tightening market.
Brent crude prices edged lower, nearing $83 per barrel, following a recent uptick of 1.6% over two consecutive sessions.
Similarly, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hovered around $78 per barrel. Despite the dip, market indicators suggest a relatively robust market, with US crude inventories expanding less than anticipated in the previous week.
The oil market finds itself amidst a complex dynamic, balancing optimistic signals such as reduced OPEC+ output and heightened tensions in the Middle East against persistent worries about Chinese demand, particularly as the nation grapples with economic challenges.
This delicate equilibrium has led oil futures to mirror the oscillations of broader stock markets, underscoring the interconnectedness of global economic factors.
Analysts, including Michael Tran from RBC Capital Markets LLC, highlight the recurring theme of robust oil demand juxtaposed with concerning Chinese macroeconomic data, contributing to market volatility.
Also, recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants have added a risk premium to oil futures, reflecting geopolitical uncertainties beyond immediate demand-supply dynamics.
While US crude inventories saw a slight rise, they remain below seasonal averages, indicating some resilience in the market despite prevailing uncertainties.
Nigeria’s Petrol Imports Decrease by 1 Billion Litres Following Subsidy Removal
Nigeria’s monthly petrol imports declined by approximately 1 billion litres following the fuel subsidy removal by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported.
The NBS findings illuminate the tangible effects of this policy shift on the country’s petroleum importation dynamics.
Prior to the subsidy removal, the NBS report delineated a consistent pattern of petrol imports with quantities ranging between 1.91 billion and 2.29 billion litres from March to May 2023.
However, in the aftermath of Tinubu’s decision, the nation witnessed a notable downturn in petrol imports, with figures plummeting to 1.64 billion litres in June, the first post-subsidy month.
This downward trend persisted in subsequent months, with July recording a further reduction to 1.45 billion litres and August witnessing a significant decline to 1.09 billion litres.
August’s import figures represented a decrease of over 1 billion litres compared to the corresponding period in 2022.
The NBS report underscores the pivotal role of the subsidy removal in reshaping Nigeria’s petrol import landscape with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company emerging as the sole importer of fuel in the current scenario.
Despite higher petrol imports in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year, the decline in June, July, and August underscores the profound impact of subsidy removal on import dynamics, affirming the NBS’s latest findings.
Nigeria’s Oil Rig Count Soars From 11 to 30, Says NUPRC CEO
The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has announced a surge in the country’s oil rig count.
Komolafe disclosed that Nigeria’s oil rigs have escalated from 11 to 30, a substantial increase since 2011.
Attributing this surge to concerted efforts by NUPRC and other governmental stakeholders, Komolafe highlighted the importance of instilling confidence, certainty, and predictability in the oil and gas industry.
He explained the pivotal role of the recently implemented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which has spurred significant capital expenditure amounting to billions of dollars over the past two and a half years.
Speaking in Lagos after receiving The Sun Award, Komolafe underscored the effective discharge of NUPRC’s statutory mandate, which has contributed to the success stories witnessed in the sector.
The surge in Nigeria’s oil rig count signifies a tangible measure of vibrant activities within the upstream oil and gas sector, reflecting increased drilling activity and heightened industry dynamism.
Also, Komolafe noted that NUPRC has issued over 17 regulations aimed at enhancing certainty and predictability in industry operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the PIA.
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