Most Asia markets rebound but oil dive drags on energy stocks

Hong Kong

Asian markets mostly rebounded Thursday from the previous day’s sell-off but energy firms struggled to recover after another plunge in oil prices as glut fears return.
Both main crude contracts dived more than two percent Wednesday despite a bigger-than-forecast drop in US inventories, with analysts suggesting OPEC and Russia should announce further output cuts.
“The fact that oil is now falling on a bullish inventory number must be a red light for producers and traders alike,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“OPEC/non-OPEC must now confront the oil elephant in the room, increasing the overall production cut from its present levels. The other choice will be to let the market set the price, which may mean oil drops to a level that even the newly slimline US shale industry struggles to break even at.”
However, the crisis comes at a time of heightened tensions between OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and fellow members Iran and Qatar, leaving little chance of cooperation.
While crude edged up slightly in Asia, it is down around 25 percent from its January highs and sitting at levels not seen since August.
That has dug into energy firms for another day. In Hong Kong, Sinopec was 0.7 percent off while PetroChina slipped 0.4 percent. Inpex tumbled 1.5 percent in Tokyo, although Sydney-listed Woodside Petroleum edged up 0.1 percent on bargain-buying.
Broader markets enjoyed a mostly positive day. Hong Kong rose 0.2 percent in the afternoon and Sydney put on 0.7 percent while Singapore gained 0.4 percent and Seoul 0.5 percent.
Shanghai ended 0.3 percent down after Wednesday’s rally that was fuelled by MSCI finally approving Chinese mainland-listed or A-shares for inclusion in its emerging markets index.
Tokyo finished 0.1 percent lower, with Takata the standout loser. The airbag maker crashed 55 percent Thursday on fears it is headed for bankruptcy and plans to sell its assets to a US company.
The Tokyo-based company at the centre of the global auto industry’s biggest-ever safety recall has tumbled for four straight days and its stock is now worth less than a quarter of its value just a week ago.
In currency trade the dollar was unable to break out against the pound and yen, despite Federal Reserve indications it will hike interest rates again this year.
In early European trade London slipped 0.4 percent, Paris lost 0.3 percent and Paris was 0.1 percent off.—AFP

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