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What to watch: Oil slides, travel stocks plunge and HSBC woes

Kumutha Ramanathan
·Contributor
·3-min read
General view of the City of London, the financial district of London on September 17, 2020. Although the lockdown measures, due to the coronavirus crisis, have been lift up the financial district of the capital, still stuggles to work at its full capacity, as many workers are still working remotely.  (Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
General view of the City of London, the financial district of London. Photo: Alberto Pezzali/Getty Images

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world:

Oil takes a dip

Oil prices slid on Monday, as production looked set to resume in Libya and gloom spread over the outlook for global demand as the pandemic continues to rage.

Traders fretted over the potential hit to prices from higher output in Libya, as its National Oil Corporation indicated production would resume despite the ongoing civil war.

The organisation announced a lifting of the state of “force majeure,” a contract clause which had allowed it to halt production, in secure oil facilities and ports. It comes after a military group called the Libyan National Army lifted its eight-month blockade of oil exports, according to Al Jazeera.

West Texas Intermediate Crude prices (CL=F) in the US lost 2.2%, trading at $40.19, while widely traded brent futures contracts (BZ=F) were 2% lower to $42.40 at around 4.30am eastern time in the US (9.30am in London).

Airline stocks hit by COVID-19 concerns

The pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 2% in early trade with airline and travel stocks leading losses in Europe. British Airways parent International Airlines Group (IAG.L) and Rolls-Royce (RR.L) are among the most notable laggards in London.

IAG was falling in early trading by 9.8%. Rolls-Royce also slid lower by as much as 10.7% after it announced plans to raise £2.5bn ($3.24bn) to strengthen its finances.

The future remains bleak for the sectors.

“Fears of a new national ‘mini’ lockdown are driving equity markets sharply lower with the travel, leisure and retail sector bearing the brunt, over concerns that new restrictions could be the final straw for their already fragile business models,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

HSBC and Standard Chartered see steep drops

The banking sector took a serious hit on Monday following a report by BuzzFeed and other media outlets on Sunday that said Britain's biggest bank moved money through its US business to HSBC accounts in Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014.

The investigation cited documents submitted by banks and other financial firms to the US Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

HSBC (HSBA.L) shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange (0005.HK) dropped to its lowest level since 1995 following the news.

HSBC shares in Hong Kong fell by over 4% at one point and is currently hovering under the $30 mark on Monday.

Standard Chartered (STAN.L) was also implicated in the investigation. Shares were down on the Hong Kong exchange (2888.HK), dropping by over 3% to the lowest since 25 May 2020. Both HSBC and Standard Chartered’s stock price performance helped drag down the Hang Seng Index (^HSI) by -1.5%.

Sterling was up 0.4% against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) to 1.287 and up 0.01% against the euro (GBPEUR=X) to 1.0901 by around 10:30 AM on Monday in London.

Meanwhile in Europe, stocks dipped as infections rise and central banks “sit on their hands.” European stocks fell on Friday, after leading central banks held off announcing fresh stimulus and coronavirus infection rates rose in several countries.

In early trading, the Europe-wide Stoxx 600 (^STOXX) was down 2.4%, while Britain’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) is down 3.2% lower after falling on Friday. Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) and France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) were both down 0.1% in early trading in Europe.

Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) rose 0.2%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) fell 2.1%, and China’s Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) dropped 0.6%.