Asian stocks poised to end week lower due to falling oil prices as investors eye US jobs report

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 May, 2017, 7:12am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 May, 2017, 7:16am

Asian equities looked set to end the trading week lower as a plunge in crude oil weighed on energy producers and investors awaited the US employment report.

West Texas Intermediate crude tumbled almost 5 per cent, plunging below US$46 a barrel and dragging the Bloomberg Commodities Index to an eight-month low. Stock-index futures in Hong Kong and Australia retreated. Japan and South Korea are closed for a holiday.

Investors are weighing whether the American economy picked up after a sluggish start to the year. Crude’s latest slide rekindled concern that global growth remains limp even as corporate earnings exceed expectations. Claims for US unemployment benefits, already at multi-decade lows, fell in the latest week, another signal of a solid labour market ahead of Friday’s US jobs report for April.

The Reserve Bank of Australia releases its quarterly economic update Friday, just days after keeping policy on hold and signalling it’s in no rush to raise rates.

Economists forecast the US added 190,000 jobs last month as the government reports hiring data at 8:30 am in New York (8:30 pm HKT).

Due to speak Friday are a host of Fed officials, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her deputy Stanley Fischer. Warren Buffett plans to take more than four dozen questions at his annual investor meeting Saturday, to be live-streamed from Omaha. Earnings releases continue, with Sands China Ltd due Friday.

Voters in France go to the polls Sunday for the second round of presidential elections.

The yen slid 0.1 per cent to 112.54 per dollar as of 7 am in Tokyo, after rising 0.3 per cent Thursday. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index closed down 0.2 per cent Thursday, while yields on 10-year Treasuries rose four basis points to 2.35 per cent.

West Texas Intermediate oil fell 4.8 per cent to settle at US$45.52 a barrel. Signs mounted that OPEC’s production cuts are failing to clear a surplus of crude. Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed after the underlying gauge rose 0.1 per cent Thursday. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.7 per cent.

Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.1 per cent, while Hang Seng contracts dropped 0.2 per cent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 0.4 per cent.