Markets Mixed Ahead of Week’s Big Meetings

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Oil markets were higher on Wednesday afternoon in Asia, as traders faced concerns about supply disruptions after the United States implemented fresh sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry. The sanctions increased concern about global supply even as concerns about the global outlook placed an opposite pressure on the markets. U.S. WTI futures were trading at $53.46 per barrel as of 2:36 p.m. HK/SIN, up 0.28 percent. Brent crude futures were up 0.42 percent to $62.58 per barrel. Wednesday’s gains came after a 2 percent price increase on Tuesday, in the session following Monday’s sanction announcement.

Stock Markets Struggle

Asian stock markets struggled on Wednesday as investors remained worried about the global economic outlook as a whole, and the state of U.S.-Sino trade relations in particular. Trade talks between the two trade superpowers are set to take place this week, with a lot of work remaining to be done in order to reach a mutually satisfactory trade arrangement. Both Chinese benchmark indexes were trading lower on trade fears, with the Shenzhen Composite down 1.08 percent and the Shanghai Composite down 0.44 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.52 percent. Trading in positive territory were Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, up 0.12 percent, and Australia’s ASX 200, which was up 0.21 percent. Sough Korea’s Kospi was 0.91 percent higher in the early afternoon.

European policymakers have begun to express concern that they could be ‘next’ in U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade-based power struggle, and that Trump could potentially seek to reduce imports of luxury European items, which would harm the region’s economy. The concern is rooted in the trade surplus that Germany has with the U.S., amounting to over 63 billion dollars in recent years. Other countries also have a trade surplus with the U.S., a state that President Trump has spoken out against – and acted out against. European policymakers also question whether China’s desire to appease Trump could result in additional purchasing of U.S. goods at the expense of European offerings, another measure that could profoundly harm the European economy.

The euro was up 0.14 percent against the dollar on Wednesday afternoon, trading at $1.1447. The pound also posted gains against the greenback, trading up 0.18 percent to $1.3089.

Sara Patterson has a Master’s Degree in political science and enjoys analyzing both current events and the international markets to get a fuller perspective of the currency market. Before turning to financial writing, she taught English writing skills to high-school age students. Sara’s work has been published on various financial and Forex blogs.