Asia markets, energy firms boosted as oil prices press ahead

The rally in oil prices has lit a fire under Asian energy firms and regiona equity markets
AFP

Hong Kong (AFP) – Crude prices continued to rally Thursday, propelling Asian energy firms and equity markets, as rising demand and Donald Trump’s decision to tear up the Iran nuclear deal point to a thinning of supplies.

While broadly expected, the president’s announcement has helped light a fire under oil, with both main contracts now sitting at highs not seen since the end of November and speculation they could go even higher.

The decision Tuesday comes as data shows US stockpiles are dwindling, major producer Venezuela is wracked by economic upheaval, and OPEC and Russia press on with an output cap.

“Unsurprisingly, crude continues to trade actively following the US pulling out of (the Iran pact) as the decision poses significant supply risk in the context of the delicately balanced supply and demand matrix,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.

He added that “unless there are some production increases from the OPEC/Non-OPEC accord to offset the drop in Venezuelan production, and the expected decline of the Iranian output, prices could be in for a significant leg higher.

“Of course, there is little indication that the accord will be looking to intervene” but eyes are now on OPEC’s meeting in Vienna on June 21.

Both main oil contracts, which rose around three percent on Wednesday, were almost one percent up in Asia.

The gains fed into energy firms with Woodside Petroleum surging 4.5 percent in Sydney, CNOOC three percent in Hong Kong and Tokyo-listed Inpex piling on 3.2 percent.

Stock markets were also benefiting.

Hong Kong rose one percent after three straight gains, Shanghai was 0.4 percent higher and Tokyo ended the morning session up 0.2 percent.

Sydney and Seoul each added 0.3 percent, while Wellington, Taipei and Manila were deep in positive territory.

Trade in Malaysian equities and the Malaysian markets are closed for the general election.

“This tug-of-war remains in the market, regardless of the positive headlines on North Korea, regardless of the positive headlines on earnings,” Quincy Krosby, the chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, told Bloomberg News.

“This is a market that has to sort that out, and that 10-year (US Treasury) yield flirting with three percent again is a reflection of that tug-of-war.”

Dealers are also keeping an eye on the China-US trade spat, with Xi Jinping’s top economics advisor heading to Washington next week for fresh talks after a high-level meeting between the economic powers ended with no agreement last week.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 54 cents at $71.68 per barrel 

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 51 cents at $77.72 per barrel

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 22,446.45 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.0 percent at 30,832.59

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,170.64

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1852 from $1.1848 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3550 from $1.3545

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.78 yen from 109.72 yen

New York – Dow: UP 0.8 percent at 24,542.54 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 1.3 percent at 7,662.52 (close) 

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