TOKYO – Shares were mostly lower Monday in Asia while crude prices gained more than $1 per barrel after OPEC and other oil producing nations agreed to cut output to reflect the collapse of demand due to the pandemic.
Just hours before markets reopened, OPEC, Russia and other oil producers finalized an unprecedented production cut of nearly 10 million barrels, or a tenth of global supply, seeking to boost crashing prices and end a price war.
U.S. benchmark crude jumped $1.30 to $24.06 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It had fallen $2.33, or 9.3%, to $22.76 per barrel on Thursday, before the Good Friday holiday.
Brent, the international standard for pricing, added $1.41 to $32.89 per barrel.
The group of nations agreed on a video conference late Sunday to cut 9.7 million barrels a day beginning May 1. Mexico had initially blocked the deal. Iran’s oil minister also says several Middle Eastern nations agreed to an additional cut of 2 million barrels a day.
Analysts said the cuts were not enough to make up for the void in demand due to business and travel shutdowns due to the coronavirus. But the deal at least helped resolve a price war that took U.S. crude to near $20 per barrel, pummeling U.S. oil and gas producers.
In share trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 0.8% to 19,349.74. The Shanghai Composite index gave up 0.4% to 2,785.47 and the Kospi in South Korea shed 0.7% to 1,847.83. Shares fell in Singapore and Taiwan but rose in Indonesia.
Markets in Hong Kong, Sydney and some other regional markets were closed for Easter holidays.
“With much of the world still on holiday, this will be a quiet start to the week,” said Robert Carnell, regional head of research in Asia at ING. “Increasingly, thoughts will turn to the process of deconfinement, something that we expect will be very slow and phased.”
Wall Street closed out its best week in 45 years on Thursday, thanks to unprecedented efforts by the Federal Reserve to support the economy through the coronavirus crisis.
Investors and analysts are looking ahead, trying to gauge when shutdowns in many countries might ease now that the number of deaths and new cases is falling or leveling off in some of the hardest-hit regions,
Comments by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., have raised hopes. He has said some parts of the U.S. might be able to reopen as early as next month.
China has begun, cautiously, to reopen activity in regions such as Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province that were shut down during the worst of its outbreak.
However, in Asia some governments are just now tightening restrictions to try to curb surges in the number of newly confirmed coronavirus infections. That is particularly true of Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing harsh criticism from many who believe the government has done too little, too late, to prevent a huge outbreak.
This week will bring a slew of first quarter corporate earnings that are likely give an inkling of how badly the pandemic is battering business, though much of the damage has come since the end of March. China is due to report its first quarter GDP data on Friday.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 39.84 points to 2,789.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.2%, to 23,719.37, and the Nasdaq climbed 0.8% to 8,153.58.
For the week, the S&P 500 jumped 12.1%, its best performance since late 1974.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 108.10 Japanese yen from 108.21 yen on Friday. The euro inched down to $1.0932 from $1.0940.
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