SYDNEY- Oil surged to four-month highs after weekend attacks on crude facilities at key producer Saudi Arabia sparked supply fears, while shares in Asia extended losses as bleak economic data from China sapped investor risk appetite.
Crude futures on both sides of the Atlantic hit their highest since May, but came off their peaks after US President Donald Trump said he had authorized the use of the US emergency stockpile to ensure stable supplies.
Trump also said the United States was “locked and loaded” for a potential response to the strikes on the Saudi facilities, which shut 5 percent of world production, after a senior official in his administration said Iran was to blame.
Worries about tensions in the Middle East and worsening relations between Iran and the United States powered safe-haven assets, with gold rising 1 percent in early Asian trade to $1,503.09 per ounce.
“If risk appetite collapses due to fears of worsening Middle East tensions in the wake of any retaliation to the … attacks, some emerging markets could face a double whammy of pressures,” said Mitul Kotecha, Singapore-based senior emerging markets strategist at TD Securities.
He noted that the Indian rupee, Indonesian rupiah and Philippine peso were the most risk sensitive currencies in Asia.
Indonesian stocks opened 2 percent lower on Monday, marking biggest intraday drop since Aug.6.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.44 percent to 513.3 after data showed China’s industrial production growth skidding to its weakest pace in 17-1/2 years in August.
Painting a dour picture of the world’s second-biggest economy, China’s statistics bureau said the country faces increasing downward pressure from external uncertainties.
China’s blue-chip index eased 0.2 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index .HSI faltered about 1.2 percent.
Liquidity was relatively thin with Japanese markets shut for a public holiday.
E-Minis for the S&P 500 were off 0.7 percent while those for the Dow fell 0.6 percent.
Among major currencies, the Saudi news pushed the yen up 0.3 percent to 107.74 per dollar while the Canadian dollar rose 0.5 percent in anticipation of higher oil prices. – Reuters