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Energy firms hit by oil dive, N.Korea crisis fuels uncertainty
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) July 6, 2017

Asian energy firms sank Thursday following a plunge in oil prices while equity traders remained on edge after North Korea's latest missile test and warnings from the US it would use force to deal with the nuclear-armed state.

Crude fell around four percent Wednesday on renewed concerns about a global supply glut that overshadowed data pointing to a drop in US stockpiles.

Investors are worried that an output cut agreed by OPEC and Russia will not be enough to offset rising production from the US and other nations including Libya and Nigeria.

"Gasoline demand has increased because of the US driving season and that's a good sign for the market," Barnabas Gan, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore, told Bloomberg News.

But he added: "The rally is still extremely fragile and any signs which point to a higher supply environment into the second half could be a factor for oil prices to fall further."

Oil had surged around 10 percent since mid-June on bargain-buying -- having dived about a fifth over the previous four weeks on supply worries.

While the commodity rose more than one percent Thursday in Asia, Hong Kong-listed PetroChina and CNOOC were each down sharply down. Santos and Rio Tinto gave up more than one percent in Sydney and Inpex was down a similar amount in Tokyo.

Broader equity markets swung back into negative territory on lingering worries about the North Korea crisis after it tested its first missile able to reach the United States.

- 'Sharp military escalation' -

At the United Nations, the US led a push for tougher sanctions on the hermit state, with Ambassador Nikki Haley saying it was working on a draft resolution imposing sanctions on Kim Jong-Un's regime.

She called the launch a "sharp military escalation" that made "the world a more dangerous place", adding President Donald Trump was ready to use military force if all diplomatic avenues are exhausted.

The escalation comes days before Trump heads to Germany for his first G20 summit, which was already expected to be testy for the new president following his recent outbursts over global trade and NATO.

Tokyo ended 0.4 percent lower while Hong Kong slipped 0.1 percent.

Sydney lost 0.1 percent and Seoul was marginally lower while Singapore and Taipei each gave up 0.4 pecent.

But Shanghai ended up 0.2 percent while Wellington, Manila and Jakarta were also slightly higher.

In early European trade London and Paris each dipped 0.1 percent but Frankfurt rose 0.2 percent.

The dollar was little moved after minutes of the Federal Reserve's June meeting indicated interest rates would rise again this year as expected but provided no clarity on the bank's plan to wind down its multi-trillion-dollar investment holdings.

"The ... minutes were perceived hawkish with US yields moving higher and the dollar-yen following suit," said Stephen Innes, senior trader at forex firm OANDA.

"But with no consensus on the balance sheet runoff timing, investors's dollar appetite dwindled a touch heading into Asia trade. However, the Fed's acknowledgement to elevated asset prices will likely keep the dollar bears at bay as this view provides more fodder to the rate hike narrative."

Traders are now awaiting the release of key US jobs data on Friday for a better handle on the state of the world's top economy.

- Key figures around 0720 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 19,994.06 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 25,508.53

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,212.44 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,365.09

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1336 from $1.1343 at 2050 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2939 from $1.2927

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.20 yen from 113.21 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 49 cents at $45.62 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 51 cents at $48.30

New York - DOW: FLAT at 21,478.17 (close)





China taps 'combustible ice' for growing energy needs
Beijing (AFP) July 2, 2017
China is drilling deep into the ocean floor in the hope of tapping vast deposits of a frozen fossil fuel known as "combustible ice" but it will be years before it is part of the global energy mix. Gas hydrates are found in the seabed as well as beneath permafrost but experts say extracting methane from the ice crystals is technologically challenging and expensive. Energy-guzzling China, ... read more

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