Oil hovers at 12-year lows
An investor walks past an electronic screen showing stock information at a brokerage house in Nanjing. Shanghai Composite rebounded nearly two per cent to 3,007.65 points on Thursday. - Reuters
London - World stocks take battering amid pessimism over global economy
Oil prices steadied on Thursday, but remained near 12-year lows on the prospect of Iran unleashing its oil on an oversupplied market and with few signs of improving demand in a fragile global economy.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, traded at $30.78 a barrel, up 47 cents day on day, at 1331GMT. It fell earlier to $29.73, the weakest since February 2004.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 40 cents at $30.88 a barrel.
"With no apparent signs of strengthening demand, and only further indicators of future global supply growth, the outlook for oil prices is leading most market watchers to ratchet down estimates for oil prices in 2016 and 2017," analysts at Cenkos Natural Resources said.
Barclays said it had raised its estimates of Iranian oil supply on western sanctions being lifted sooner than expected. Analysts at the bank said they now assume that Iran will produce almost 700,000 barrels a day more in the fourth quarter of 2016 than over the same period in 2015.
Meanwhile, stock markets around the world took a battering on Thursday as traders tracked a big-down day on Wall Street. Pessimism over the global economy in light of super-low oil prices and worries over China has jolted investors all year.
In Europe, France's CAC 40 slid 2.6 per cent to 4,284 points while Germany's DAX dropped 2.3 per cent to 9,729 points. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 1.5 per cent lower at 5,869 points. Earlier, they had been down even more but hopes of a steady opening on Wall Street following Wednesday's slide have helped steady the ship - Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures were up 0.4 per cent.
In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dived 2.7 per cent to close at 17,240.95 points. South Korea's Kospi was down 0.9 per cent at 1,900.01. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.6 per cent to 19,817.41 points, but the Shanghai Composite rebounded nearly two per cent to 3,007.65.
Stocks across the Middle East tumbled as foreign investors exited the region amid a global selloff.
Egypt's EGX 30 Index led the slump with a 5.6 per cent decline, taking its retreat this week to 15 per cent.
"Foreigners are dumping stocks in the region," said Ahmed Shehada, the Dubai-based executive director for advisory and institutions at NBAD Securities, the brokerage are of the UAE's biggest bank.
"Oil has been leading the free fall, China's been adding to the selling pressure and we can't dismiss the geopolitical tension in the region. These three ingredients are a bitter meal."
Saudi Basic Industries Corp was the biggest contributor to the gauge's decline on Thursday. The chemical manufacturer's 2.1 per cent also helped drag Saudi Arabia's Tadawul All Share Index down 3.3 per cent to the lowest level since March 2011. Qatar's QE Index retreated for a sixth day, losing 2.3 per cent. Dubai's DFM General Index, which dropped every day this year except one, declined 3.6 per cent. Abu Dhabi's ADX General Index decreased 1.6 per cent, and Kuwait's gauge fell 1.6 per cent. Oman's MSM 30 Index traded 1.7 per cent lower. Bahraini stocks slipped 0.1 per cent.
Indian stocks declined for a third day this week in a volatile trading session.
The S&P BSE Sensex lost 0.3 per cent to 24,772.97 point at the close in Mumbai, after changing direction at least 10 times. The index pared an intraday loss of 1.5 per cent after Infosys, which has the highest weighting in the gauge, reported results.
Dovetailing the calm opening on Wall Street, the mood was steadier in foreign exchange markets where the euro was trading 0.2 per cent higher at $1.0891 and the dollar was 0.1 per cent ahead at ¥117.78.