- Asian equities lack clear directional bias amid losses in the US index futures and a spike in oil prices.
- Markets fear an extended Saudi production outage after weekend’s attack on Aramco facilities.
- Fears of US-EU trade could keep the European equities on the defensive.
Asian stocks are trading mixed while the US index futures are flashing red on geopolitical tensions.
As of writing, the futures on the S&P 500 are down 0.5%. Stocks in Australia and China are reporting marginal gains while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index is down 1%. India’s Nifty index is also shedding 0.55% at press time.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebel group on Saturday attacked Saudi Aramco’s crude facilities, knocking out more than 5% of global oil supplies.
In response, oil prices gapped higher by close to 20% in the early Asian trading hours. Markets are now worried that the production outage may last more than six weeks and prices could rise as high as $75 or even $80.
That could push up inflation across the globe, complicating matters for central banks planning to deliver rate cuts to counter the economic slowdown.
Also, the US officials told reporters on Sunday that Tehran was behind the attack and President Trump raised the specter of a US military response by tweeting that the US was “cocked & loaded” to strike.
The geopolitical tensions and dismal China data will likely keep the European indices on the defensive. China’s Industrial Production expanded at the slowest pace in 17-1/2 years in August, the official data released at 02:00 GMT showed. Consumer spending, as represented by Retail Sales, also came in weaker-than-expected, bolstering fears of a deeper economic slowdown.
Also, fears of the US-EU trade war could bolster the bearish pressures around the European equities.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday ruled in favor of the US in the long-running transatlantic dispute, opening doors for Trump to impose punitive tariffs in retaliation for illegal subsidies granted to European aerospace giant Airbus.
The already weak German, French, and other European economies could suffer big time if Trump imposes tariffs on European Union’s goods.