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It’s shaping up to be a long week for oil prices. And stock markets. And…

Saudi Arabia rushed out a rare statement on Tuesday asserting its commitment to “stabilising the global oil market”, just as global benchmark Brent crude slipped towards $50 a barrel for the first time this year.

The statement, released after 8pm in Riyadh, came after Opec’s monthly report showed Saudi Arabia’s production had increased in February, adding to pressure on the market that was already concerned about a rebound in US shale oil output.

Further sharp losses for oil prices kept global equity markets on the back foot as participants waited to see whether the Federal Reserve would deliver a widely-expected rise in interest rates on Wednesday.

In Asia Pacific equities, futures tip Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 index to open 0.2 per cent lower, while Tokyo’s Topix is set to fall 0.5 per cent when trading begins and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng is expected to dip 0.2 per cent.

Corporate earnings reports out today include Cathay Pacific, China Unicom, Towngas China, Aeon Reit Investment and Comforia Residential.

The economic calendar for Wednesday doesn’t want to make this look too easy (all times Hong Kong):

  • 07.00: South Korea unemployment rate
  • 07.30: Australia Westpac consumer confidence
  • 12.30: Japan industrial production
  • Sri Lanka Q4 GDP, Philippines remittances and Indonesia imports, exports and trade balance are also expected out today.

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