Saudi attack dents currencies of crude importers, stocks dip

Smoke is seen following a fire at Aramco facility in the eastern city of Abqaiq September 14, 2019. — Reuters pic
Smoke is seen following a fire at Aramco facility in the eastern city of Abqaiq September 14, 2019. — Reuters pic

BEIJING, Sept 16 — Emerging market currencies took a backseat today with those of major crude importers sliding as oil prices surged after an attack on Saudi Arabian facilities cut more than 5 per cent of the global oil supply.

The fallout from the attacks sparked supply fears, pushing Brent crude futures to record their biggest intra-day percentage jump since the Gulf War in 1991.

But prices came off their peaks after US President Donald Trump authorised the use of the country’s emergency stockpile to ensure stable supply.

Further inflaming geopolitical tensions in the region, Trump said the United States was “locked and loaded” for a potential response to the strikes.

“Emerging market FX would be the immediate casualty, especially those affected by large oil import bills, with flight to safety expected to support gold and government bonds,” said Taimur Baig, chief economist at DBS Research.

Turkey’s lira, India’s rupee and Indonesia’s rupiah all shed more than 0.5 per cent against the dollar as the jump in oil prices stoked inflationary concerns.

Conversely, oil exporter Russia’s rouble rose 0.6 per cent, scaling a seven-week high, while energy companies listed on the Moscow MOEX index pushed the benchmark up 0.8 per cent.

China’s yuan was up 0.2 per cent after a holiday weekend, as investors cheered signs of progress in US-China trade negotiations, but the oil surge limited gains for the currency of the world’s largest oil importer.

China growth pangs

Stocks in the developing world snapped a three-day gaining streak as bleak economic data from China sapped demand for riskier assets.

August industrial production grew at its slowest in 17 years in the world’s second-largest economy, raising hopes that Beijing will dole out more stimulus to boost growth.

Both the Shanghai and the blue-chip index ended lower.

While future data from China is expected to remain weak, stock markets are likely to look beyond the negative implication of backward-looking data and focus on signs of progress in the trade war, said Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader.

South Korean shares rose to a seven-week high as refineries and shipbuilders rallied on the surge in oil prices, though a fall in memory chip stocks limited gains.

Stocks in Johannesburg climbed 0.3 per cent, but those in Istanbul fell marginally. — Reuters

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