Global Markets-Oil races toward $100 as stocks inch off 3-week lows

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…As South Sudan’s president, rebel leader sign peace deal***

Fresh sparring between Washington and Beijing over trade kept world stocks close to three-week lows on Wednesday, while a slight dollar pullback gave little respite to emerging markets, Indian rupee plumbed to new record lows.

Oil prices extended to 80 dollars a barrel as Hurricane Florence advanced and U.S. sanctions started weighing on Iran’s exports.

Analyst said oil should be 100 dollars presently.

The months-long escalation in tensions between the world’s two biggest economies has shown no sign of letting up.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States was taking a tough stance with China. That cemented expectations that fresh levies on Chinese exports will soon be announced.

Trump’s comments came after China told the World Trade Organization (WTO) it wanted to impose seven billion dollars a year in sanctions on the United States in retaliation for non-compliance with a ruling in an earlier trade dispute.

Equity markets also faced pressure from U.S. two-year bond yields which touched a decade peak on Tuesday, partly spurred by data that provided yet more evidence of the U.S. economy’s strength.

That data pushed Wall Street to a strong close, led by tech and energy shares, but futures signalled U.S. shares opening flat. European stocks however firmed almost half a per cent, moving off recent five-month lows.

MSCI’s all-country equity index inched up marginally, looking to extend two sessions of modest gains that had snapped six straight days of losses. But emerging equities retreated to new 15-month lows.

Asian equities excluding Japan hit their lowest since July 2017 after sharp falls in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Emerging currencies stayed under pressure. The yuan slipped to 2-1/2 week lows against the dollar, leading Asian peers lower and keeping the Australian dollar – heavily linked to Chinese trade – close to its lowest since February 2016.

Emerging markets have been the biggest victims of the trade spats and rising U.S interest rates. An index of emerging currencies is down almost 7 percent this year.

Emerging markets’ woes have been exacerbated in many cases by heavy borrowing over the past decade, with Societe Generale analysts noting that “the misallocation of capital following a decade of cheap money is starting to be exposed”.

While the worst hit Turkish lira and Argentine peso have steadied off record lows, the Indian rupee is continuing to plumb new troughs, taking year-to-date losses versus the dollar to more than 12 per cent.

The dollar inched 0.2 per cent lower against a basket of currencies, as hopes grew of concessions by Canada that would resolve disputes over reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Long-dated U.S. bond yields stayed just off the one-month highs hit on Tuesday after data showing sustained strength in the jobs market and the Treasury started a record debt sale amounting to almost 150 billion dollars.

The rise in U.S. yields has hit Italy. It has been one of the bright spots in world markets in recent days, as fears have receded of a government spending binge. But Italian 10-year yields rose two bps off six-week lows.

The British pound also slipped off five-week high hit this week against the dollar, as nascent optimism over a Brexit trade deal with the European Union subsided. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, the South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Riek Machar on Wednesday signed a peace agreement in the margins of a regional summit in Ethiopia.

South Sudan plunged into warfare two years after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011 when a political dispute between Kiir and Machar exploded into military confrontation.

A previous peace deal signed in 2015 fell apart a year later after clashes broke out between government forces and rebels, forcing Machar to leave Juba.

The new agreement, mediated by Sudan, reinstates Machar, a former vice-president, to his former role.

The U.S., Britain and Norway, known as the Troika which oversees peace efforts, welcomed the signature of the deal by Kiir, Machar and other groups.

“We hope discussions will remain open to those, who are not yet convinced of the sustainability of this agreement,” they said in a statement.

“We must seize this broader regional momentum to secure peace for the people of South Sudan.”

South Sudan’s civil war erupted in 2013, less than two years after it had gained independence from Sudan.

The war has uprooted a quarter of South Sudan’s 12million population, ruined the country’s agriculture and battered its economy.