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Stocks steady as oil leaps

A calming of trade waters put oil in the spotlight as prices surged on a combination of supportive factors. The US dollar resumed its rise, and share markets stabilised, and in many cases regained recently lost ground. Futures traders seemed caught in the headlights, and are indicating a mixed start to Asia Pacific trading.

Looming US sanctions against buyers of Iranian oil, disruption to Libyan supply and surprisingly high US demand catapulted crude oil prices higher. Iron ore caught the updraft, but industrial metals largely ignored the positive moves. Combined with a further fall in gold prices these factors should make resource stocks a focus in today’s session.

China industrial profits information will drop mid-session today ahead of UK housing and US durable goods orders tonight. However investors are likely to wait for important global inflation data due Friday night before making significant changes.

Trade fears are potentially the greatest risk to market health in the short term. The view that the recent escalation is a negotiating tactic gives investor comfort. However unintended consequences could see cascading restrictions that are hard to reverse. Economic damage despite good intentions remains a threat.

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