• Asia markets retreat, energy stocks hit by oil losses

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    HONG KONG: Oil prices on Tuesday extended their heavy losses from the previous session, hitting Asia’s beleaguered energy stocks as most regional markets retreated from a recent rally.

    Weak factory data in China and the United States added to the selling pressure, although Shanghai rallied on hopes of fresh economy-priming measures from Beijing and after the central bank pumped billions of dollars into financial markets.

    The euphoria fuelled by Japan’s shock decision Friday to adopt a negative interest rate — effectively charging lenders to park cash with the central bank — soon yielded to the same fears that caused a rout in global markets in January: China’s slowing growth and low oil prices.

    “We’re in for a period of continuing caution,” Angus Gluskie, a managing director at White Funds Management in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.

    “It’s a period of uncertainty. China remains the biggest concern for investors. If the Chinese situation develops more adversely, it could have greater ramifications.”

    Tokyo fell 0.6 percent after surging about 4.5 percent over the previous two sessions in response to the Bank of Japan’s surprise stimulus announcement. Sydney lost one percent after Australia’s central bank held off cutting interest rates, while Seoul also shed 1 percent.

    Hong Kong lost 0.8 percent while Taipei, Jakarta and Manila also saw losses.
    But Shanghai closed up 2.3 percent thanks to the People’s Bank of China’s liquidity injection days before the week-long Lunar New Year break.

    In early European trade London and Frankfurt shed 0.4 percent and Paris was off 0.5 percent.

    Oil slides toward $30

    Oil resumed its slide back toward $30 a barrel, with both contracts down more than 1.5 percent in Asian trade.

    On Monday US benchmark West Texas Intermediate tanked almost 6 percent and Brent dived around 5 percent as the rally fuelled by last week’s hopes for output talks between Russia and OPEC faded.

    Among energy stocks CNOOC shed 1.1 percent in Hong Kong and PetroChina lost 0.9 percent.

    Sydney-listed Santos gave up 4.3 percent and BHP Billiton was 2.2 percent lower after Standard & Poor’s cut its credit rating on the firm due to falling commodity prices.
    In Tokyo Inpex plunged almost 5 percent.

    Investors are also awaiting a US stockpiles report Wednesday and are expecting to see another jump, indicating demand remains weak.

    Crude was also hurt by the release of key gauges indicating manufacturing activity in China and the US continued to shrink in January. Flat US consumer spending for December also weighed.

    Federal Reserve vice chair Stanley Fischer, in a speech Monday, warned the market turmoil could hit the US economy, a crucial driver of global growth.

    “If these developments lead to a persistent tightening of financial conditions, they could signal a slowing in the global economy that could affect growth and inflation in the United States,” Fischer said.

    AFP

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