Energy stocks sink but oil edges up after sharp losses

Hong Kong (AFP) –


Energy shares fell again on Thursday on the last trading day of the year, tracking losses in New York and Europe although oil prices bounced slightly following another hefty loss.

As dealers wound down ahead of the new year break, business was light and stock markets flitted in and out of positive territory.

Crude prices edged up slightly but were unable to claw back the losses of more than three percent suffered Wednesday after data showed a surprise jump in US commercial stockpiles.

Along with a sharp growth slowdown in China, the slump in commodities has been a key story through 2015, with the cost of oil down more than 60 percent from recent peaks seen in summer 2014.

Crude has been hammered by anaemic demand, a slowdown in the global economy -- particularly China -- a worldwide supply glut and a strong dollar.

In Hong Kong petroleum-linked firms dipped, with CNOOC down 1.6 percent, PetroChina off 0.2 percent and Kunlun Energy 0.9 percent lower.

And in Sydney mining giant BHP Billiton lost 1.4 percent while Rio Tinto eased 0.4 percent and Santos shed 2.8 percent.

"This year has been a very volatile and difficult year as the markets were assaulted by volatility from different asset classes," Kelvin Tay, regional chief investment officer at UBS's wealth management business in Singapore, told Bloomberg News.

"The sharp selloff in the commodities market badly affected the Asian currency markets, especially Southeast Asian currencies and equities."

However, he added: "China's economy will have a soft landing in 2016."

The slowdown in China's growth, and fears about Beijing's ability to manage it, sent shudders through global markets in the summer, slicing trillions off valuations. The Shanghai index, which had soared 150 percent in 12 months crashed more than 40 percent, with profit-taking and concerns about high valuations also stoking worries.

On Thursday markets limped towards the finish line, with Hong Kong up 0.3 percent, Shanghai flat, Sydney easing 0.3 percent and Taipei flat.

Tokyo and Seoul were closed for public holidays, while most regional markets will be closed Friday for New Year's Day.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 21,940.77

Shanghai - composite: UP 0.45 points at 3,574.02

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0926 from $1.0932 late Wednesday

Dollar/yen: UP to 120.47 yen from 120.52 yen

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.7 percent at 17,603.87 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 6,274.05 (close)