Global stocks mixed as oil gains amid scrutiny of Saudi Arabia

AFP – Global stocks were mixed Monday as markets sought to pivot from last week’s volatility and oil prices rose amid questions over Saudi Arabia’s role in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

US equities had a choppy session as analysts debated whether the market was ready to turn the page after leading indices dropped the most since March.

The S&P 500 ended down 0.6 percent.

"US stocks oscillated around the S&P 500’s flat line on Monday before whipping noticeably lower in the final hour of trading," said

Weakness in technology and financial shares, "coupled with ongoing concerns about the global economic growth outlook kept follow-through buying interest from Friday’s rally in check," added.

US data showed retail sales in September inched higher by 0.1 percent, well below the 0.6 percent gain projected by analysts, although there was some good news in the details.

IHS Markit trimmed its forecast for the US holiday shopping season to 4.7 percent growth from the prior 5.0 percent projection, citing higher gasoline prices and the drag on discretionary spending following the pullback in the stock market.

Earlier, Frankfurt and London finished solidly higher, while Paris was essentially flat.

– Asian stocks battered –

In Asia, Japanese equities led the way lower, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 shedding almost two percent, in anticipation of an announcement from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of a two percentage-point hike in the sales tax.





Japanese stocks faced pressure also after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said over the weekend that Washington wants to include a provision to prevent currency manipulation in future trade deals with Tokyo.

Chinese stocks, which were the worst hit in last week’s global rout, also tracked lower, with the benchmark Shanghai composite off 1.5 percent.

"We can’t say the shock is over," said Masayuki Kubota, chief strategist at Rakuten Securities.

Last week saw a broad-based sell-off in global equities that was prompted by fears of higher US interest rates, continued worries over US-China trade and attacks by President Donald Trump on the Federal Reserve, which he called "crazy."

Oil prices continued to climb as traders fretted over US relations with its ally and the world’s top oil producer Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia remained under scrutiny after the disappearance of journalist Khashoggi, a Saudi national and US resident who became increasingly critical of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Assertions by Turkish officials that Khashoggi was killed led to a wave of cancelations among big companies who had been scheduled to appear at a business conference in Riyadh next week.

Trump on Monday suggested that "rogue killers" could be to blame for the disappearance of Khashoggi and said that the oil-rich state’s monarch emphatically denied involvement.

Geopolitical tensions surrounding Saudi Arabia also battered shares in Japanese conglomerate Softbank, which has close financial ties to the Kingdom.

Softbank stock plunged more than seven percent in Tokyo, as Riyadh is heavily involved in the firm’s massive technology investment fund.

 – Key figures around 2100 GMT –

New York – Dow Jones: DOWN 0.4 percent at 25,250.55 (close)

New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.6 percent at 2,750.79 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 0.9 percent at 7,430.74 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,029.22  (close)

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 5,095.07 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 11,614.16 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.5 percent at 3,210.37 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.9 percent at 22,271.30 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.4 percent at 25,445.06 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.5 percent at 2,568.10 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1580 from $1.1560 at 2100 GMT Friday

Pound/dollar: FLAT at $1.3153

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.77 from 112.21 yen

Oil – Brent Crude: UP 35 cents at $80.78 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 44 cents at $71.78 per barrel

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