A currency trader watches the computer monitors near the screens showing the foreign exchange rates at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. An attack on a critical Saudi Arabia oil plant has pushed crude prices sharply higher, though they moderated on expectations that reserves will help bridge any shortfalls in output.(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Global stocks mostly lower after oil prices surge

September 16, 2019 - 6:11 am

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets sank Monday after crude prices surged following an attack on Saudi Arabia's biggest oil processing facility.

Market benchmarks in London and Frankfurt opened lower while Jakarta's benchmark lost 1.8%. Shanghai was unchanged, and Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

Benchmark U.S. crude jumped $4.75 per barrel following the attack on oil producer Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq facility for which Yemeni rebels claimed responsibility. Brent crude, the international standard, was up $5.54 after spiking nearly $8 at one point.

That hurt airline stocks and other businesses with big fuel bills and put upward pressure on inflation expectations. At the same time, higher prices are a boost to oil exporters such as Malaysia and temporarily pushed up share prices for crude producers.

"This is obviously not a good day if you are an oil importer," said Chris Weston of Pepperstone Group in a report.

"This isn't just a question of who or even what actually caused the attacks, but some have questioned whether we will we see further attacks and Saudi infrastructure is vulnerable," said Weston.

In early trading, London's FTSE 100 lost 0.1% to 7,359.01 and Frankfurt's DAX retreated 0.8% to 12,369.23. France's CAC 40 lost 0.7% to 5,616.75.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index was off 0.4% and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average also was down 0.4%.

In Asia, the Hang Seng index was off 0.8% at 27,124.55 after dropping 1.1% at one point following more anti-government protests.

The Hong Kong airport reported passenger traffic fell 12% in August from a year ago, a sign of the economic impact of demonstrations that began three months ago.

"Oil ructions aside, investors would have already been nervous today in Asia as a belligerent China returns from holiday," Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index was off 0.5 points at 3,030.75 as trading resumed following a three-day holiday weekend. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 was up 4 point at 6,673.50.

Seoul's Kospi gained 0.6% to 2,062.22 while India's Sensex lost 0.7% to 37,111.12. Taiwan advanced and Southeast Asian markets retreated.

Investor anxiety about the U.S.-Chinese tariff war eased following conciliatory gestures last week by both sides ahead of negotiations next month on their conflict over trade and technology.

President Donald Trump postponed planned Oct. 1 tariff hikes to Oct. 15, opening up the possibility they might be put off indefinitely if the talks make progress. Beijing announced Friday it would lift punitive duties on soybeans, China's biggest import from the United States, and some other farm goods.

Despite that, the two sides have given no indication of progress toward resolving the core issues in the sprawling dispute that threatens global economic growth.

On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 index turned in its third straight weekly gain Friday, even as major U.S. indexes ended the day mostly lower.

A slide in technology stocks, along with losses in consumer-focused and real estate companies, offset solid gains elsewhere in the market, including big Wall Street banks and industrial stocks.

This week, investors are looking for a possible U.S. interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve. The central bank lowered its benchmark rate in July by a quarter point, its first cut in a decade, to prop up U.S. economic growth.

The S&P 500 index and the Dow both slipped 0.1%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq fell 0.2%.

CHINA-AUSTRALIA DAIRY PURCHASE: Bellamy's Australia Ltd., a dairy and producer of infant formula, said it agreed to be acquired by China's Mengniu Dairy Co. for 1.5 billion Australian dollars ($1 billion). The deal adds to Chinese global acquisitions aimed at profiting from China's growing market for imported food. Mengniu is one of China's most prominent milk brands and also sells in Singapore, Myanmar and Indonesia.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose $4.40 to $59.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 24 cents on Friday to close at $54.85. Brent crude jumped $5.30 or 8.9%, to $66.52 per barrel.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 107.75 yen from Friday's 108.09 yen. The euro sank to $1.1052 from $1.1078.

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