Hong Kong, November 15: Asian investors moved nervously on Thursday as they struggled in the face of multiple headwinds, while oil prices resumed their drop and the pound struggled to hold its gains.
Fears about the China-US trade war, rising Federal Reserve interest rates, tensions within the European Union and slowing growth in most economies have helped drive stocks south for the past few months.
And this week it has been the turn of the crude market to drive the sell-off, dragging energy firms as it dropped like a stone on slowing demand and high output, while US sanctions on major producer Iran were not as severe as expected.
While OPEC and its kingpin Saudi Arabia have said they will tighten the taps to put an end to the recent sell-off — both main contracts have fallen around a fifth from their early October highs — the US has pushed up production.
Calls from Donald Trump for lower prices, a stronger US dollar against emerging market units and soft Chinese growth have also been factors in depressing the market.
And despite a brief rise in oil prices Wednesday, observers do not expect a rebound any time soon.
“The toxic elixir of weakening global demand and oversupply suggests upticks (in oil prices) will run into substantial selling as numerous bearish factors are weighing on sentiment,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA.
Energy firms were mixed Thursday as traders took a breather from the heavy selling of the past few days, with Hong Kong-listed CNOOC up 1.5 percent but Inpex down 0.3 percent in Tokyo.
On broader markets, Hong Kong edged up 0.5 percent, Shanghai was 0.8 percent higher, while Seoul and Taipei each added 0.2 percent.
However, Tokyo ended the morning down 0.3 percent, Sydney eased 0.4 percent and Singapore was off 0.1 percent.