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Oil prices tank, stocks mostly sink on Delta fears

·3-min read
Oil prices have taken a hit from concerns about demand as the US holiday season draws to a close and the Delta variant triggers new containment measures

Oil prices tanked Thursday and global stocks mostly sank on worries the latest wave of Covid-19 infections will crimp global growth.

"Investors are spooked by the virus once more, compounded by news that the Federal Reserve in the US may be on the brink of reducing its economic support for the US economy," analysts at Hargreaves Lansdown said.

In late morning deals, the main Paris stock index briefly tumbled 3.0 percent before paring losses, with the luxury sector hit hard especially amid worries over China's stumbling economic recovery as well as a looming crackdown on the rich by the authorities in Beijing.

Luxury firms have come to rely heavily on well-heeled Chinese in recent years, and shares in Paris-listed luxury groups suffered.

Shares in LVMH fell 6.4 percent, Kering dropped 9.5 percent, and Hermes lost 4.7 percent.

Analysts at UBS said investor concerns are "driven by three primary factors: 1) renewed Covid-related restrictions; 2) potential macro slowdown; and 3) most recently policy concerns amid the government calling for wealth distribution and clampdown on high incomes."

The Frankfurt and London indices also slumped, mirroring Asia's weak performance.

But Wall Street stocks finished little changed following a better-than-expected US jobless claims report.

US stocks had dropped the last two sessions, with analysts pointing to a weak retail sales report amid the Delta variant and Federal Reserve signal that it will begin to pull back on stimulus this year.

But analysts at Oxford Economics said the fast-spreading variant "risks slowing, but not derailing, the recovery." They predicted authorities would focus on vaccine diffusion and "resort to harsh restrictions only if there is a huge spike in severe Covid cases."

- Stronger dollar -

The dollar strengthened against most key rival currencies on talk of Fed moves to taper bond purchases will be followed by higher US interest rates, according to analysts.

The rising US currency weighed on dollar-priced oil, which slumped more than 3.0 percent at one point also hit by weaker demand expectations amid rising virus fears, notably in commodities-hungry China.

"Concerns about dampening demand expectations as a result of an increase in coronavirus cases worldwide have contributed to the drop" in oil, said AvaTrade analyst Naeem Aslam.

"The rise in the dollar... has added to the downside pressure."

Petroleum-linked equities had an ugly session on Wall Street, falling with oil prices as climbing virus cases raise doubts about crude demand. ConocoPhillips, Chevron and ExxonMobil all lost at least two percent.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 34,894.12 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 4,405.80 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 14,541.79 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.5 percent at 7,058.86 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.3 percent at 15,765.81 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 2.4 percent at 6,605.89 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.5 percent at 4,124.71 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.1 percent at 27,281.17 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 2.1 percent at 25,316.33 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,465.55 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1680 from $1.1711

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3637 from $1.3756

Euro/pound: UP at 85.53 pence from 85.13 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.72 yen from 109.77 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 2.7 percent at $63.69 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.6 percent at $66.45 per barrel

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