- Asian Stocks Gain on Move by China’s Central Bank, but Trade War Weighs
Asian stocks rose on Monday after China’s central bank took steps to try to drag the yuan away from 14-month lows, but the tit-for-tat conflict over Sino-U.S. trade hung heavily on markets.
The People’s Bank of China late on Friday raised the reserve requirement on foreign exchange forward positions, making it more expensive to bet against the Chinese currency.
The move boosted the Australian dollar, which is often played as a liquid proxy for the yuan. The Aussie came off two-week lows to climb as high as $0.7412 after the announcement, and was last at $0.7396.
Analysts say the step by the PBOC will be generally positive for Asian assets.
“Leaning against bearish CNY sentiment is important because a rapidly weakening currency risks triggering residential outflows and destabilizing domestic asset prices,” JPMorgan analysts said in a note.
“Our economists think that PBOC likely will take further action if CNY depreciation continues or capital outflow pressure increases.”
On Monday, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.2 percent for a second straight session of gains.
Japan’s Nikkei edged up 0.1 percent, while Australian shares added 0.5 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI index rose 0.4 percent.
On Wall Street, the Dow climbed 0.54 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.46 percent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.12 percent. They were helped by strong corporate earnings, although gains were capped by worries over the escalating trade tensions.
China’s finance ministry proposed tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods on Friday, while a senior Chinese diplomat cast doubt on prospects of talks with Washington to resolve the bitter trade conflict.
That was followed by a report in China’s state media saying Friday’s retaliatory tariffs were “rational” while accusing the United States of blackmail.
At the same time, U.S. President Donald Trump said his strategy of placing steep tariffs on Chinese imports is “working far better than anyone ever anticipated”, citing losses in China’s stock market. He predicted the U.S. market could “go up dramatically” once trade deals were renegotiated.
“Our economists consider that escalation in tension may bring the U.S. and China back to the negotiation table, but that even if negotiations are resumed, a bumpy and lengthy process is likely to ensue as the two sides remain very far apart,” JPMorgan added.
According to Bespoke Investment Group, mentions of tariffs in S&P 500 company earnings reports for the second quarter have more than doubled from the first quarter of this year.
In currencies, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was up 0.1 percent at 95.259.
Traders see further upside in the dollar as they maintained a significantly large long position on the currency, while net short bets on the Aussie were their largest since November 2015.
The British pound held at $1.30 after falling to an 11-day low of $1.2975 following remarks by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney that Britain faced an “uncomfortably high” risk of a “no deal” Brexit.
The euro inched down to more than 5-week lows of $1.1573.
Gold bounced from near 17-month lows after weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data, and was last up 0.1 percent at $1,213.70.
Meanwhile, Brent crude futures were off 2 cents at $73.19, while U.S. crude oil futures were up 9 cents at $68.58 a barrel.
Crude Oil Drops on Wednesday as U.S. Oil Inventories Jump Unexpectedly
Global oil prices fell by 1 percent on Wednesday after data from the U.S. Energy Department showed that the United States oil inventories unexpectedly rose by 4.3 million barrels last week. More than the 1.9 million barrels predicted by experts.
The unexpected increase in United States inventories weighed on crude oil prices on Wednesday, erasing $1.31 or 1.5 percent from Brent crude oil after it rose to a seven-year high on Tuesday. While the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dipped by $1.09 or 1.3 percent to $83.56 a barrel.
Still, gasoline stocks declined by 2 million barrels across the United States, a situation likely to push pump prices even higher.
“The market continues to deplete Cushing crude oil inventories and that is impacting the Brent-WTI spread and ultimately we’re going to see crude oil diverted from the Permian up to Cushing rather than going to the Gulf Coast,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
However, the shaky COVID-19 recovery in most economies has led to doubts over the sustainability of rising oil prices.
“(Some) countries are falling into an autumn Covid-19 case spike,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy, “which poses downside risk for oil demand growth in the very near-term and could provide a soft pressure on oil prices.”
Brent Crude Oil Extends Gain to $86.66 a Barrel Amid Tight Supply
Tight global oil supply pushed Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria oil is priced, to a multi-year high of $86.66 per barrel on Monday at 3:30 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price was lifted by rising fuel demand in the United States and tight global supply as economies recover from pandemic-induced slumps.
“The global energy supply crunch continues to show its teeth, as oil prices extend their upward march this week, a result of traders pricing in the ongoing rise in fuel demand – which amid limited supply response is depleting global stockpiles,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.
Goldman Sachs on the other hand is predicting a further increase in Brent crude oil to $90 a barrel, citing a strong rebound in global oil demand due to switching from gas to oil. This the bank estimated may contribute about 1 million barrels per day to global oil demand.
The investment bank said it expects oil demand to reach around 100 million barrels per day as consumption in Asia increases after the devastating effect of COVID-19.
“While not our base-case, such persistence would pose upside risk to our $90/bbl year-end Brent price forecast,” Goldman said in a research note dated Oct. 24.
Earlier this month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies, known as OPEC+ agreed to continue increasing oil supply by 400,000 bpd a month until April 2022 despite calls for an increase in global oil supplies.
The decision bolstered the price of Brent crude oil above $84 per barrel and expected to push the price even further to $90 a barrel. Low global oil supply amid rising demand for crude oil will continue to support oil prices in the near term.
“Despite the recent power cuts and impacts to industrial activity in China, oil demand is likely instead supported by switching to diesel powered generators and diesel engines in LNG trucks, as well as by a ramp up in coal production,” Goldman Sachs stated.
U.S. and Ghana Inaugurate New $64.7 Million Energy Infrastructure Investment at Pokuase
U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie Sullivan joined the President of Ghana H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo and other Ghana government officials to formally inaugurate the Pokuase Bulk Supply Point (BSP) in Accra today. The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funded the $64.7 million (GH₵ 391.9 million) electrical infrastructure project under the Ghana Power Compact.
“The Pokuase Bulk Supply Point represents sustainable infrastructure investment by the United States with Ghana that will benefit hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians now and into the future,” remarked Ambassador Sullivan at the inaugural event. “It will help deliver more reliable power to the people, places, and businesses of Accra that drive increased economic activity benefitting families, businesses, and communities.”
This represents a flagship investment under the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Ghana Power Compact. The Pokuase BSP will reduce outages in the power system, help stabilize voltages, and improve the quality and reliability of power supplied to the northern parts of the capital city of Accra. It will also reduce technical losses in the power transmission and distribution system, contributing to the financial viability of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) in the long term. The Pokuase BSP is now the largest-capacity BSP in Ghana at 580 megavolt amperes (MVA) and will directly benefit 350,000 utility customers.
The Government of Ghana implemented the project through the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA). MiDA formally handed over the new power substation to ECG and GRIDCo in today’s ceremony.
The Pokuase BSP is the first major construction project to be completed under the Ghana Power Compact. The $316 million compact is helping the Government of Ghana improve the power sector through investments that will provide more reliable and affordable electricity to Ghana’s businesses and households. The compact is also funding a BSP at Kasoa and two primary substations at Kanda and Legon, in addition to other power sector investments, energy efficiency programs, and women’s empowerment programs within the power sector. The compact program will officially close on June 6, 2022.
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