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Asian Stocks Volatile Amid Brexit Worries, MSCI China Decision

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Asian stocks

Asian stocks recovered slightly from a near three-week low on Wednesday as markets digest MSCI’s decision not to include domestic Chinese equities in its indexes.

Mainland Chinese shares, among Asia’s worst performers this year, were mixed while Hong Kong slid, as markets, which had expected Chinese A-shares to be included in the emerging market index, considered the announcement.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan were down 0.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei reversed earlier losses to rise 0.7 percent.

China’s CSI 300 index and the Shanghai Composite staged a turnaround from earlier declines to rise 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent respectively. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.1 percent.

MSCI in its decision said Beijing had more work to do in liberalising capital markets, and said it wanted more time to assess the effectiveness of the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) quota allocation scheme and capital mobility policy changes.

MSCI said it would consider China A shares’ inclusion as part of its 2017 review and didn’t rule out a potential off-cycle announcement should further positive developments occur ahead of June 2017.

“We agree there is room for improvement in the regulatory environment and in corporate governance in the A-share market,” Steven Sun, head of China and Hong Kong equity research at HSBC, wrote in a note.

“However, we believe it is moving in the right direction…We still think inclusion is probable (possibly by year-end).”

China’s securities regulator said the decision won’t impact the reform and opening process of the country’s capital markets, adding that the country needs to build long-term, stable and healthy capital markets.

The Chinese central bank set the yuan midpoint rate at 6.6001, the lowest level against the dollar since January 2011. It eased to 6.6020 per dollar on the open, and was last trading slightly higher at 6.5978.

The offshore yuan rose to 6.6071 after earlier falling to 6.6152 to the dollar, its weakest level since early February as worries about China’s economy deepened after data showed growth in China’s fixed-asset investment slowed to a 15-year low.

On Wall Street, S&P 500 Index hit a three-week low to end at 2,075.32 on Tuesday, down 0.18 percent, in its fourth consecutive drop, led by a 1.45 percent fall in financial shares.

European shares were under more pressure, with Britain’s FTSE falling 2.0 percent to a 3 1/2-month low on fears disruptions from leaving the political and economic union could harm the UK economy, possibly sending it into a recession.

“The economic impact would occur over months and years, not immediately. But financial markets are constantly trying to look forward and discount what’s going to happen,” said Michael Metcalfe, head of global macro strategy at State Street Global Markets based in London.

“But I think the real question will become political – that a large country has decided to leave the EU,” he added.

Worries that Brexit will deal a significant blow to the integration of Europe have helped to push up borrowing costs of European countries with weak credit ratings.

The gap between 10-year Portuguese bond yields and German peers rose to 337 basis points, its widest since February. The spread for Italian and Spanish debt also rose to levels not seen since February.

Investors instead flocked to the safety of German bunds, whose yield fell below zero for the first time in history on Tuesday.

The Japanese yen also held firm, staying near a six-week high against the dollar and a 3 1/2-year high against the euro.

The yen was changing hands at 106.285 to the dollar, having hit a six-week high of 105.63 on Tuesday. The euro stood at 119.02 yen after falling to a low of 118.48.

The safehaven Swiss franc was last trading at 1.0798 per euro after rising to a 5 1/2-month high of 1.0787 in the previous session.

The British pound struggled near its two-month low against the dollar touched on Tuesday. It last stood at $1.4136, close to Tuesday’s low of $1.4091.

Concerns about Brexit dwarfed any optimism from solid U.S. retail sales data published on Tuesday.

Fed funds futures show investors see almost no chance of the Fed raising U.S. interest rates on Wednesday after the dismal U.S. payrolls report for May.

The 10-year U.S. debt yield fell to a four-month low of 1.567 percent on Tuesday and last stood at 1.6113 percent.

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.

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Oil Steadies, But Outlook Gloomy as Coronavirus Cases, Supply Grow

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Oil price

Oil prices eked out small gains on Tuesday after sharp losses, but sentiment remained subdued as a surge in global coronavirus cases hit prospects for crude demand while supply is rising.

Brent crude was up 43 cents, or 1%, at $40.87 a barrel. U.S. oil gained 43 cents, or 1.1%, at $38.99 a barrel. Both contracts fell more than 3% on Monday.

A lack of progress on agreeing a U.S. coronavirus relief package added to market gloom, although U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday she hoped a deal can be reached before the Nov. 3 elections.

A wave of coronavirus infections sweeping across the United States, Russia, France and many other countries has undermined the global economic outlook, with record numbers of new cases forcing some countries to impose fresh restrictions as winter looms.

“We think demand from this point onwards is really going to struggle to grow. COVID-19 restrictions are all part of that,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) commodities analyst Vivek Dhar.

CBA expects U.S. oil to average $38 and Brent to average $41 in the fourth quarter this year.

Prices got some support from a potential drop in U.S. production as oil companies began shutting offshore rigs with the approach of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Monday the worst is over for the crude market.

But his comment contradicted an earlier remark from OPEC’s secretary general, who said any oil market recovery may take longer than hoped as coronavirus infections rise around the world.

Meanwhile, Libyan production is expected to reach 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in the coming weeks, the country’s national oil company said on Friday, a quicker return than many analysts had predicted.

That is likely to complicate efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to restrict output to offset weak demand.

OPEC+ – made up of OPEC and allies including Russia – is planning to increase production by 2 million bpd from the start of 2021 after record output cuts earlier this year.

An analyst survey by Reuters ahead of data from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday and the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday estimated that U.S. crude stocks rose in the week to Oct. 23, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell.

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Nigel Farage Urged to Highlight Perils of DIY Investing

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160624_INV_PoundBrexit

Nigel Farage appears to be advocating a DIY approach to investing – and this could be “monumentally risky” for inexperienced investors, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as a daily finance-orientated newsletter from the team of the Brexit Party leader and political activist urges its readers to “tell us about your successes by going it alone – leaving the money men and middlemen by the side of the road…”

Mr Farage’s email is provided for correspondence.

Mr Green comments: “Successful DIY (Do It Yourself) investing can be possible, but for most people it is not recommended – indeed, it could be a costly and traumatic accident waiting to happen.

“Going it alone can be monumentally risky for inexperienced investors as the complexities involved can sink their portfolios.

“Perhaps this is why around two-thirds of wealthy individuals have a professional financial adviser of some sort, according to new independent research from the University of Toronto.”

He continues: “I would urge anyone who extols the virtues of a DIY approach to investing to also underscore the risks and potential pitfalls to be avoided.”

A pro will help you make the best investment decisions in five key ways, says Nigel Green.

“First, helping you to diversify a portfolio. Spreading money around is vital to curb risk. However, it must be used correctly – diversification will only add real value if the new asset has a different risk profile.

“Second, investing with a plan: Unless you have a sound plan, you’re gambling, not investing.

“Third, avoiding emotional decisions. Overly emotional decisions can prove deadly when it comes to investments because they are blighted by prejudices and biases.

“Fourth, regularly reviewing your portfolio: Investments need to be consistently reviewed to ensure they still deserve their place in the portfolio and that they are still on track to reach your long-term financial objectives.

“Fifth, not focusing excessively on historical returns: The future investment situation is likely to be different from time-aged averages.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “While investing remains almost universally regarded as one of the best ways to create, grow and safeguard wealth, considering the pitfalls of getting it wrong, it could be an expensive mistake for you and your family not to seek professional advice.”

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Top Five US Oil and Gas Firms Lost $307bn in Market Value Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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Crude oil

Market Value of US Five Largest Companies Decline by $307bn in 2020

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the oil and gas industry was faced with slumping prices. However, with a record collapse in oil demand amid the coronavirus lockdown, the COVID-19 crisis has further shaken the market, causing massive revenue and market cap drops for even the largest oil and gas companies.

According to data presented by StockApps.com, the top five oil and gas companies in the United States lost over $307bn in market capitalization year-over-year, a 45% plunge amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Market Cap Still Below March Levels

Global macroeconomic concerns such as the US-China trade war and the oil overproduction set significant price drops even before the coronavirus outbreak. A standoff between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the first months of 2020 sent prices even lower.

After global oil demand plunged in March, Saudi Arabia proposed a cut in oil production, but Russia refused to cooperate. Saudi Arabia responded by increasing production and cutting prices. Shortly Russia followed by doing the same, causing an over 60% drop in crude oil prices at the beginning of 2020. Although OPEC and Russia agreed to cut oil production levels to stabilize prices a few weeks later, the COVID-19 crisis already hit. Statistics show that oil prices dropped over 40% since the beginning of 2020 and are hovering around $40 a barrel.

Such a sharp fall in oil price triggered a growing wave of oil and gas bankruptcies in the United States and caused a substantial financial hit to the largest gas producers.

In September 2019, the combined market capitalization of the five largest oil and gas producers in the United States amounted to $674.2bn, revealed the Yahoo Finance data. After the Black Monday crash in March, this figure plunged by 45% to $373bn. The following months brought a slight recovery, with the combined market capitalization of the top five US gas producers rising to over $461bn in June.

However, the fourth quarter of the year witnessed a negative trend, with the combined value of their shares falling to $367bn at the beginning of this week, $6.2bn below March levels.

Exon Mobil`s Market Cap Halved in 2020, Almost $155bn Lost YoY

In August, Exxon Mobil Corporation, once the largest publicly traded company globally, was dropped from the Dow Jones industrial average after 92 years. As the largest oil and gas producer in the United States, the company has suffered the most significant market cap drop in 2020.

Statistics indicate the combined value of Exxon Mobil`s shares plunged by 52% year-over-year, falling from almost $300bn in September 2019 to $144bn at the beginning of this week.

Phillips 66, the fourth largest gas producer in the United States by market capitalization, witnessed the second-largest drop in 2020. Statistics show the company`s market cap dipped by 49.6% year-over-year, landing at $22.9bn this week.

The Yahoo Finance data revealed that EOG Resources lost over $21bn in market cap since September 2019, the third-largest drop among the top five US gas producers.

Conoco Phillips witnessed a 42% drop in market capitalization amid the COVID-19 crisis, with the combined value of shares plunging by almost $30bn year-over-year.

Statistics show Chevron witnessed the smallest market cap drop among the top five companies. At the beginning of this week, the combined value of shares of the second-largest US gas producer stood at $141.5bn, a 36.9% plunge year-over-year.

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