Traders work at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The Hang Seng fell 1.1% at 21,464.05 points yesterday.
Most Asia markets sank again yesterday at the end of a painful week for global equities defined by an oil rout that analysts warn could continue for some time.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 1.0% at 19,230.48 points; Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 1.1% at 21,464.05 points and Shanghai composite down 0.6% at 3,434.58 points at the close yesterday.
Crude prices extended losses and have now tanked more than 10% since last Friday when the Opec grouping decided against capping output despite an oversupply and anaemic global demand.
Dealers are also keeping tabs on next week’s Federal Reserve policy meeting, where it is expected to hike interest rates for the first time in nine years.
“It’s difficult for shares to move much ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting,” Hitoshi Asaoka, a senior strategist at Mizuho Trust & Banking Co in Tokyo told Bloomberg News.
“Oil prices haven’t stabilised yet so we can easily enter a wait-and-see mood. I expect the market to continue to be unstable.”
The Opec decision last week has sent oil to around seven year lows, and with the global economy struggling, China’s growth subdued and the dollar tipped to strengthen further, the commodity is expected to remain beaten down until possibly 2017.
Prices were hurt further by Opec’s announcement Thursday that its collective production rose in November to its highest level in three and a half years and beyond its 30mn ceiling target.
The figures are “reinforcing consternation that the global oil market is going to remain oversupplied for a longer time”, said Bernard Aw, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore.
Shares in Hong Kong sank 1.1%—a seventh-successive loss—with CNOOC and PetroChina leading energy firms lower. But troubled mining giant Glencore surged more than 11% in late trade after saying in London it would accelerate a plan to reduce debt and slash its 2016 capital budget to $3.8bn from $5bn previously.
London-listed shares in the firm ended up 7.7%.
On other markets Shanghai slipped 0.9%, Sydney was 0.2% lower and Seoul sank 0.2%.
In Shanghai, trading in Chinese conglomerate and Club Med owner Fosun International was suspended as reports swirled that its billionaire chairman had become unreachable and could be under investigation. Guo Guangchang, dubbed “China’s Warren Buffett”, had been out of contact since Thursday, respected business magazine Caixin reported.
It cited social media postings as saying police took Guo away at an airport in Shanghai, but it was not clear whether he was put under investigation himself or assisting an inquiry.
Authorities have launched wide-ranging probes into the financial sector following a market rout earlier this year when a debt-fuelled bubble—encouraged by officials—burst, wipingtns of dollars off valuations.
Traders seemed to brush off gains in New York, which capped off three days of losses.
However, bargain-buying and a weaker yen helped Tokyo rally one% by the break after three-straight losses that led the Nikkei to a one-month low.
The dollar edged up against the yen after suffering selling for most of the week, with the Fed meeting coming within a week and US monetary policy expected to be tightened.
The greenback bought ¥122 although it is still down from the levels above ¥123 seen Monday.
And the euro was at $1.0953 from above $1.10 in Asia Thursday although it has held most of the gains made after the European Central Bank last Thursday announced a stimulus revision that fell well short of expectations.
China’s central bank on Friday cut the yuan’s value against the greenback to its lowest in more than four years, just a week after the International Monetary Fund welcomed the unit into its elite reserve currency basket. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) set the daily reference at 6.4358 yuan to $1.0, the lowest since August 5, 2011, the China Foreign Exchange Trade System showed.
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