As oil price bounces off lows, global stocks recover ground

LONDON – European stock markets recouped losses Monday as oil prices bounced back from earlier lows after major oil-producing nations failed to agree on production cuts over the weekend.

The main stock indexes in Europe had tracked their Asian counterparts sharply lower at the open after crude prices tanked following the inconclusive talks in Doha, Qatar.

But a subsequent oil price recovery helped shore up sentiment. Germany’s DAX even pushed into positive territory, albeit by a small 0.1 per cent to 10,059. Britain’s FTSE 100 index was down only 0.1 per cent at 6,335 while the CAC-40 in France was also down 0.1 per cent at 4,490.

U.S. stocks were poised to open modestly lower, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.3 per cent.

The main focus in markets is the failure of the talks in Doha to reach a consensus on freezing production to support prices. Saudi Arabia said it wouldn’t back a deal if Iran, which is trying to ramp up output as international sanctions are lifted, wasn’t involved. Already tense relations between the two countries deteriorated in recent months over issues including the wars in Syria and Yemen, in which they are backing opposing sides.

A barrel of benchmark New York crude was down $1.31, or 3.3 per cent, at $39.05 while the international standard, Brent, fell $1.13, or 2.6 per cent, to $41.97. Earlier, both had been even lower, with New York crude down 7 per cent at one stage.

“Traders appear to be coming round to the understanding that although no deal came out of the weekend’s Doha oil production freeze meeting, we shouldn’t really have expected anything given the strong stances by Iran and Saudi Arabia,” said Mike van Dulken, Head of Research at Accendo Markets.

“Investors are also reviving some of last week’s risk appetite that came about from solid China data, U.S. banks Q1 results not being as bad as expected and some soft U.S. data bolstering the U.S. Fed’s ‘gently does it’ message,” he added.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index dropped 3.4 per cent to end at 16,275.95 as a rising yen and quake-related production halts added to investor worries. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.7 per cent to 21,161.50 and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China shed 1.4 per cent to 3,033.66. South Korea’s Kospi retreated 0.3 per cent to 2,009.10, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.4 per cent to 5,204.90. Taiwan’s benchmark also fell while shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.

While the Doha talks’ collapse set a downbeat tone for the start of the week, investors have other matters to look forward to, including more quarterly U.S. corporate earnings reports and the next policy meeting of the European Central Bank.

“People are just sitting on the sidelines still,” said Andrew Sullivan of Haitong Securities. “People are very wary of what they’re going to do with their money.”

Investor sentiment in Japan was also pressured as the yen hovered near its strongest level in 18 months, crimping the outlook for the country’s exporters. Meanwhile, two recent powerful earthquakes that struck southern Japan in recent days forced Toyota Motor Corp. to suspend some production because of disruptions to its parts supplies.

In currency markets, the dollar slipped 0.4 per cent to 108.43 yen from 108.81. The euro rose to $1.1307 from $1.1282.