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Energy stocks took a beating on Monday morning in Japan and Australia after the US crude oil benchmark briefly dropped below the $48 mark for the first time in more than three months, while stock in HSBC climbed following the official announcement of the Asia-focused bank’s new chairman.
West Texas Intermediate briefly dropped below the $48-per-barrel mark on Monday morning in Asia, pointing to still further downward pressure on the US crude oil benchmark.
The price fell as much as 1.2 per cent to $47.90 a barrel in early morning Asia trading, its lowest level since November 30. Brent crude, the international benchmark was off as much as 1 per cent at $50.85 a barrel.
The US oil price had suffered its sharpest one-day sell-off for 13 months on Wednesday, and fell 7 per cent over the course of last week.
Shares in HSBC Holdings were up as much as 1.2 per cent in Hong Kong after the bank formally announced the appointment of Mark Tucker to succeed Douglas Flint as the group’s new chairman. Mr Tucker’s departure from AIA hit stock in the Asian insurer, which fell as much as 3.2 per cent.
In Hong Kong the Hang Seng index was up 0.1 per cent in early trading, while energy stocks broke ranks with the rest of the region, climbing 0.3 per cent.
The dip in US crude was less kind to energy stocks listed on other bourses in the region. In Tokyo the Topix index was up 0.2 per cent, held aloft by a rally in telecoms stocks, which rose 1.5 per cent. Topping the list was KDDI Corp and NTT Docomo, both up 2.1 per cent. But energy stocks were down 0.3 per cent, led by a 2 per cent fall from shares in Nippon Gas Co. The Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.2 per cent.
Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.4 per cent, led lower by a drop of 1 per cent in the energy segment. Among the worst performers were Santos Limited, off 1.7 per cent, and Oil Search, down 1.3 per cent.
South Korea’s won was leading gains on the dollar, firming 0.6 per cent to Won1,150.25 after Park Geun-hye finally left the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Sunday, two days after a constitutional court unanimously upheld her impeachment.
The dollar index tracking the greenback against a basket of peers was up 0.1 per cent at 101.31. Japan’s yen was 0.1 per cent weaker at ¥114.88, while the Australian dollar was flat at $0.7548.
The pound was flat against the dollar at $1.2166 as Theresa May, Prime Minister, is expected to trigger Article 50, the mechanism for Brexit, as soon as Tuesday in the likely event she heads off a small rebellion within her own party.
Movement was minimal in sovereign bond markets ahead of Wednesday’s interest rates decision from the US Federal Reserve.
10-year US Treasuries saw yield, which moves inversely to price, rise one basis point to 2.582 per cent. The only other action came from Australian 10-year government bonds, yield on which dropped 3bp to 2.943 per cent.