SHAFAQNA – Oil prices were knocked again on Wednesday, with Asian shares and the dollar also pulling back as global growth concerns and political uncertainty in Greece prompting a flight to safety. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> slipped 0.4 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei stock average <.N225> was down more than 1 percent.
A Japanese government survey released before the market opened showed big Japanese manufacturers grew less optimistic in October-December and they see conditions worsening further in the following quarter, suggesting that the economy is slow to recover from a recession.
U.S. crude futures <CLc1> were down more than 1 percent at $63.12 a barrel. Oil prices have been under pressure amid a massive supply glut, after OPEC decided against an output cut.
Adding to pressure on crude prices, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, reported a 4.4 million barrel build in crude stockpiles last week when analysts had predicted a drop. [API/S]
European political woes added to the gloomy mood. Greek shares and sovereign bond markets plunged after the government in Athens brought forward a presidential vote that heightened uncertainty over the country’s transition out of its IMF/EU bailout.
World markets have been buffeted in recent months on signs of weakening global growth, with a rout in oil prices in particular triggering a bout of volatility.
“Volatility surged, most equity markets were routed and a number of consensus trades shaken in London/New York,” Sean Callow, a currency strategist at Westpac, said in a note. “U.S. interest rates fell on safe-haven demand for Treasuries and the U.S. dollar followed suit.”
The yield on benchmark 10-year notes <US10YT=RR> stood at 2.221 percent, not far from its U.S. close of 2.220 percent on Tuesday.
The dollar was down about 0.1 percent on the day at 119.52 yen <JPY=>, after shedding more than 2 percent at one point on Tuesday to trade as low as 117.90 yen. The greenback marked a seven-year high of 121.86 yen on Monday.
The euro was up about 0.1 percent at $1.2381 <EUR=>.
A selloff in Chinese shares on Tuesday also dragged down global sentiment. China’s official bond clearing house also rattled markets by tightening collateral rules. It excluded about 500 billion yuan ($81 billion) worth of corporate bonds from being used for bond repurchase agreements.
On Wall Street overnight, major indexes ended lower, though the S&P 500 <.SPX> was nearly flat.