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Asian Stocks Stumble on Geopolitical Tensions, Oil Stands Tall

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Currency Exchange Bureaus As China Roils Markets For Second Day As Yuan Tumbles With Stocks

Asian stocks were on edge on Wednesday as geopolitical tensions flared after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet, while crude oil prices extended gains.

Spreadbetters expected some of the tension to have eased when trading begins in Europe, forecasting a slightly higher open for Britain’s FTSE .FTSE, Germany’s DAX .GDAXI and France’s CAC .FCHI.

MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside of Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS edged up 0.1 percent but shares in Hong Kong .HSI, Australia and South Korea .KS11 slipped.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 shed 0.4 percent.

Adding to investor nervousness that followed attacks in Paris earlier this month, Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft near the Syrian border on Tuesday, saying the jet had violated its air space.

It was one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member country and Russia for half a century.

“The individual impact on the market from events like the Paris attacks and heightened security in Brussels may be small, but there is also uncertainty that’s worrying investors,” said Masaru Hamasaki, head of market & investment information department at Amundi Japan.

“The stock market does not like uncertainty,” Hamasaki said.

Still, some of the markets in the region managed to hold their own even as the tense backdrop kept buyers at bay. Shanghai shares edged up 0.3 percent .SSEC while Malaysian and Indonesian stocks also posted modest gains.

“The conclusion would be Russia would not want to take this too much further at a time when its economy is seeing some green shoots after the past two years of sanctions,” said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, adding that Turkey is Russia’s second-biggest energy customer.

The incident briefly sparked oil supply fears and sent crude prices surging overnight to 2-week highs.

U.S. crude CLc1 absorbed early profit taking on Wednesday and edged up 0.1 percent to $42.92 a barrel.

The rally in crude favoured commodity currencies such as the Australian dollar AUD=D4, which hovered near a 1-month high of $0.7276.

The Canadian dollar fetched C$1.3294 CAD=D4 to the greenback after pulling away from a 2-month low of C$1.3436 struck earlier this week.

The U.S. dollar was lower, hurt in part as the latest flare-up in geopolitical tensions stoked demand for safe-haven Treasuries and drove their yields lower.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. note yield US10YT=RR stood at 2.239 percent after touching a 3-week low of 2.206 percent overnight.

“I was a bit worried yesterday. So far Russia seems to be taking a ‘grown-up’ attitude, which was good but the market may remain a bit anxious,” said Takako Masai, head of market research at Shinsei Bank in Tokyo.

The dollar index against a basket of major currencies .DXY fell to 99.528, retreating from an 8-month peak of 100.000 set on Monday.

Against the yen, the greenback dipped to a 1-1/2 week low of 122.27 JPY= before crawling back to 122.43.

The euro EUR= gained 0.1 percent to $1.0655.

Prices of metals such as zinc, copper and nickel, which had recently plumbed multi-year lows, bounced on the back of the dollar’s retreat. A stronger dollar makes dollar-denominated metals more expensive for buyers. [MET/L]

However, industrial metals are seen remaining under pressure in the long run with an expected Federal Reserve interest rate hike in December likely to underpin the dollar.

Reuters

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 long experience in the global financial market.

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Investment

Barclays Tell High Net Worth Investors to Shun Africa and Other Emerging Economies

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Barclays Bank

Barclays to High Net Worth Clients, Stay Off Africa and Other Emerging Economies

Barclays, one of the world’s largest investment banks, has started advising high net worth clients to stay off Africa and other emerging economies.

According to Barclays, despite the recent recovery noticed in emerging-market stocks, investors are better off avoiding the risks that still abound in emerging nations. Barclays Plc, however, advised high net worth clients to focus on U.S equities despite the S&P’s breakneck rally.

The investment bank said emerging economies do not have enough fiscal buffers to spend their way out of the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely continue to struggle in the near-time compared to the US with 12 percent of gross domestic product fiscal-support.

It said the huge US stimulus may halt rebound in emerging-markets stocks as more money is expected to flow into the world’s largest economy and its European counterparts.

“Compared to the U.S., emerging-market economies appear more vulnerable,” said Haider, the London-based managing director and head of global growth markets. “Their central banks have less room to maneuver, their governments may not be able to provide unlimited support and equity markets, given their sector mix, can be more challenged by an economic slowdown.”

Barclays added that even after 33 percent rebound in stocks of emerging markets since the panic selloff subsided in March, stocks are still down by 9 percent from year-to-date while the US S&P 500 stocks are up by 45 percent. Presently, their stocks trading at a 36 percent discount to US stocks, up from 25 percent three months ago.

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Economy

Crude Oil Rises to $43.1 Per Barrel on Production Cuts Extension

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  • Crude Oil Hits $43.1 Per Barrel Following OPEC’s Production Cuts Extension

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil price is measured, rose by 1.25 percent on Monday during the Asian trading session following OPEC and allies’ agreement to extend crude oil cuts to the end of July.

OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to extend production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day reached in April to July on Saturday.

In the virtual conference, delegates agreed that members, including Nigeria and Iraq presently struggling to attain a 100 percent compliance level must keep to the agreement or be forced to do so in subsequent months.

Nigeria, Iraq and others failed to keep to the cartel’s agreement in May after reports show that Nigeria only managed to attain a 19 percent compliance level during the month while Iraq struggled to attain just 38 percent in the same month.

Russia and Saudi Arabia, the two largest producers of the group, warned members to stick to the agreed quota if they want to rebalance the global oil market.

While the errant producers such as Iraq and Nigeria have vowed to reach 100% conformity and compensate for prior underperformance, we still think they will likely continue to have some commitment issues over the course of the summer,” said Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

The potential return of Libyan output could also cause considerable challenges for the OPEC leadership.

Earlier on Monday, Brent crude oil hits $43.1 per barrel, more than a month record-high, before pulling back slightly to $42.83 per barrel.

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Economy

Gold Dips by 2 Percent on Better Than Expected Job Report

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  • Gold Dips by 2 Percent on Better Than Expected Job Report

Gold prices declined by 2 percent on Friday following a better than expected US non-farm payroll report.

The report showed an increase of 2.5 million payroll numbers against a decline of 7.5 million predicted by many experts.

The surprise number boosted investors’ confidence in US recovery as many dumped their haven investment (gold) for the stock market.

“We had significantly stronger-than-expected U.S. payroll numbers – an increase of 2.5 million versus an expectation of a decline of 7.5 million – that 10-million swing has brought forward expectations of the economic recovery in the United States,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities.

Spot gold immediately declined by 1.9 percent per ounce to $1,678.81 while the U.S. gold futures slid 2.6 percent to settle at $1,683.

Gold was also being pressured by stronger yields and a slightly firmer dollar, “meaning the opportunity cost to hold gold in the portfolio has gone up,” Melek added.

The surprise didn’t stop there, US Dow Jones was up 614 points despite the protest going on the US and US-China tension.

Also, NASDAQ rose by 29 points while the S&P index added 50 points increase.

Note: Investors generally increase their investments in gold and other haven assets during a crisis to avert risk exposure and do the opposite once they sense a better economy.

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