HONG KONG (AP) — Oil prices stabilized in Asian trading Friday after hitting a five-month low while regional stock benchmarks headed lower in holiday-thinned trading.
KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index lost 0.8 percent to 24,500.70 while the Shanghai Composite index in mainland China shed 0.6 percent to 3,107.25. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5 percent to 5,846.80. Markets in Japan and South Korea were closed for holidays.
CRUDE CONCERNS: Oil prices found their footing after tumbling during U.S. trading on uncertainty over whether OPEC will extend an agreement to cut production to shore up prices. Member nations of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are due to discuss the deal later this month. U.S. benchmark crude futures rose 20 cents to $45.61 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slumped to its lowest level since late November, losing $2.30, or nearly 5 percent, to settle at $45.52 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the standard for international oils, rose 19 cents to $48.47 in London after a similar decline.
QUOTEWORTHY: “The collapse in oil prices saw (benchmark West Texas Intermediate) plunge as the market continues to probe for a bottom amid oversupply concerns,” said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA. Oil is now near the psychological $45 level “which, if broken could send the oil pits into complete disarray and will likely have far-reaching consequences for both equity and currency markets near term,” he added.
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