Asian stocks, oil prices lower on US-China trade war

Asian stocks, oil prices lower on US-China trade war

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May began on a subdued note across world markets after heavy falls on Wall Street and the threat of a fresh US-China trade tension. 

Equities in Asia Pacific traded lower on Monday, with markets in China, Japan and Thailand closed for holidays.

Oil prices slipped in early trade this morning, paring last week’s gains, on concerns the global oil glut may persist as US-China trade war could hold back an economic recovery even as coronavirus pandemic lockdowns across the world start to ease.

On Friday, most Asian and European markets were down, with Indian markets shut on account of Maharashtra Day.

On Thursday, S&P BSE Sensex jumped 2,390.40 points or 7.63 per cent to settle at 33,717.62 during the week gone by, while NSE Nifty rallied 705.50 points or 7.71 per cent to settle at 9,859.90.

The domestic market kept its winning streak intact throughout the week, with the Sensex, on Monday, adding 415.86 points to close at 31,743.08 while the Nifty gaining 127.90 points to settle at 9,282.30. 

On Tuesday, the Sensex advanced 371.44 points to end at 32,114.52 while Nifty rose 98.60 points to close at 9,380.90.

On Wednesday, the Sensex, soared 605.64 points to 32,720.16, while Nifty rallied172.45 points to end at 9,553.35.

However, Wisdom Capital market analysts warn that it would be difficult to sustain the rally in markets unless the economy opens up.

The government on Friday extended the national lockdown by a further two weeks, smashing hopes of resumption in economic and business activities. The market’s wait for fiscal stimulus from the government continues even as March quarter earnings have begun reflecting early pain of the economic disruption.

Bond yields remained volatile after Franklin Templeton’s decision to wind up its six debt schemes, although, RBI’s special liquidity facility of Rs 50,00. crore for mutual funds  prevented a sharp spike in yields.

On Monday morning, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 3.43 per cent in early trade, with shares of Chinese tech juggernaut Tencent falling 3.55 per cent.

South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.87 per cent in morning trade while the Kosdaq index shed 0.31 per cent.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.25 per cent. Shares of major bank Westpac dipped 0.36% after the firm announced a profit plunge in its first half earnings and a deferral in its dividend payment.

Overall, the MSCI Asia  outside Japan index traded 2.2 per cent lower.

US stock futures declined in overnight trading on Sunday. Futures contracts tied to Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were 1.5 per cent lower on Sunday night, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also slipped over 1 per cent. 

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump threatened to use trade tariffs to punish China for what he sees as its mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The White House is said to be frustrated at China’s failure to contain the coronavirus and attempts to divert blame for its emergence. 

The strain that first emerged in Wuhan province in China, has infected more than 3.5 million people, with more than 247,000 deaths, around the world, and caused immense global economic damage. Additionally, a media report said US intelligence documents accuse China of hiding the extent of the outbreak to hoard medical supplies.  

Wall Street had started 2020 on a high note, extending a multi-year rally before COVID-19 forced its three main indexes to lose as much as 35 percent at one point in March.

In the oil markets, US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped as low as $18.32 a barrel and were down $1.46, or 7.6 per cent, at $18.27 at 0008 GMT. The benchmark contract rose 17 per cent last week.

While Brent crude futures were down 90 cents, or 3.4 per cent, at $25.54, after touching a low of $25.53. Brent rose about 23 per cent last week following three consecutive weeks of losses.