Crude rises on US Russian oil ban, Asian shares wobble

A man looks at stock market monitors in Taipei January 22, 2008. REUTERS / Nicky Loh

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  • Brent crude up 1.88%, above $ 130 per barrel
  • European stock exchanges set for firms open
  • US imposes ban on Russian oil, Britain to phase out imports
  • MSCI Asia ex-Japan turns lower, China shares dive in afternoon

SHANGHAI, March 9 (Reuters) – Crude oil prices rose again on Wednesday while Asian stocks struggled for footing as investors assessed the impact of the worsening conflict in Ukraine and a new US ban on Russian oil.

In Europe, however, shares were poised for a stronger open. Euro Stoxx 50 and German DAX futures were around 2% higher and FTSE futures gained 1.36% in early deals.

“It’s not really … a risk-on rally. It’s more that investors have got less reason to sell than they previously did, nothing’s really come through to change sentiment around, and you’ve probably got some short covering in there,” said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at City Index in Sydney.

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The price of a barrel of crude, already on the march higher in January on supply worries and expectations of a strengthening global economic recovery, has rocketed upward since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Oil is now roughly double its early December low.

Risking even higher US fuel prices that could curb economic growth, President Joe Biden on Tuesday imposed an immediate ban on Russian oil and other energy imports in retaliation for the invasion, amid strong support from American voters and lawmakers.

The ban caps sweeping US and European sanctions imposed on Moscow for launching the largest war in Europe since World War Two. Russian strikes have targeted Ukrainian cities and killed hundreds of civilians. read more

Britain also announced it will phase out imports of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022. read more

“The oil shock by nature is an accruing one, not a one-off, and the potential for the market to hit $ 150 before returning to $ 100 is easier for investors to digest,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

“Putting in force sanctions without first developing surrogate supply contingencies risks Brent crude (going) much higher.”

Global benchmark Brent was last trading at $ 130.38 per barrel, up 1.88% on the day but still off a peak of $ 139.13 touched on Monday.

US West Texas Intermediate crude was up 1.52% at $ 125.58 per barrel.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation,” and warned earlier this week that prices could surge to $ 300 a barrel and it could close the main gas pipeline to Germany if the West blocked its oil exports. read more

In equity markets, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) was down 0.10%, as a sharp reversal in Chinese shares erased earlier gains.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index (.CSI300) briefly dived as much as 4.6% in the afternoon on what Zhang Yanbing, an analyst at Zheshang Securities, said was a technical acceleration near the market bottom.

Chinese shares had struggled in the morning session following inflation data that showed a combination of soft domestic demand and high commodity prices, while coronavirus cases continue to rise. read more

In Hong Kong, where infections have surged to record highs, the Hang Seng (.HSI) was last down 2%. read more

But broader regional losses were kept in check by gains elsewhere, with Australia’s resource-heavy ASX 200 (.AXJO) up 1.04% and Taiwan shares (.TWII) up 1.13%.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei (.N225) fell 0.3%.

“I think we’re getting Russia fatigue. We’ve had 10-12 days now of bombardment of Russia headlines. And whilst it’s tragic what’s happening over there, at the same time I think we’ve priced in effectively the worst of the worst, “said Simpson at City Index.

Wobbly share price moves in Asia followed another day in the red on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 0.56%, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 0.72% and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 0.28 %.

“Markets remain volatile, unable to confidentially price implications from the news flow given the complex state of the global economy,” said Rodrigo Catril, senior FX strategist at National Australia Bank.

Against the uncertain backdrop, the yen held steady against the dollar at 115.70, while the dollar fell 0.2% against a basket of its peers to 98,919.

The euro was 0.23% higher at $ 1,0924 and the ruble was last quoted at 122.5 to the greenback.

US Treasury yields edged down, with benchmark 10-year notes last yielding 1.8490%, down from 1.871% late on Tuesday. The 2-year note last yielded 1.6069%, down from 1.629%.

The price of gold wavered between small gains and losses, and was last down 0.18% to $ 2,048.77 per ounce.

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Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Kim Coghill and Christopher Cushing

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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