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Oil prices mixed amid China, currency concerns

Global crude-oil prices finish in mixed fashion amid markets unnerved by weak Chinese economic data and worries about global energy demand, especially in emerging markets.

NEW YORK: Global crude-oil prices finished in mixed fashion on Friday amid markets unnerved by weak Chinese economic data and worries about global energy demand, especially in emerging markets.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in March, the benchmark US futures contract, shed 68 cents to close at $96.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In London trade, Europe's main contract, Brent North Sea crude for March, rose 30 cents to $107.88 a barrel.

Markets were under pressure from jitters over growth prospects in China, the largest energy consumer, after the HSBC reported earlier this week that Chinese manufacturing contracted in January.

"The weak manufacturing data not only is lowering demand expectations from China but seems to be putting a pall on emerging markets around the globe," said Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group.

The Turkish lira continued to plunge, hitting a record low against the dollar on Friday despite a massive central bank intervention the prior day.

Russia's ruble hit a record low against the euro and sank against the dollar to a nearly five-year low. Argentina's peso crashed 11 per cent on Thursday, its biggest drop since 2002.

Wall Street stocks shed about two per cent Friday, in the wake of sharp equity losses in Europe.

"Despite pockets of geopolitical tension rising up across the globe, from explosions in Egypt, ongoing protests (against anti-protest laws) in Ukraine, a failing cease-fire in South Sudan and Syrian peace talks breaking down, crude is being swept up by the wave of bearishness in broader markets," Matt Smith of Daily Distillation said in a research note.

"A loss of confidence sees a flight from risk in emerging markets, which ripples through to currencies, bonds, developed nations and commodities."

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