SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific declined in Monday trade as oil prices surged, with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war continuing to weigh on investor sentiment globally.
The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong led losses regionally, dropping more than 4% at one point before seeing a slight recovery. The city’s benchmark index last traded 3.34% lower as shares of HSBC plummeted 6.02%.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 2.07% lower.
Oil prices continue surging
Oil prices soared in the morning of Asia trading hours on Monday, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 8.63% to $128.30 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also surged 7.33% to $124.16 per barrel.
Brent had earlier skyrocketed to as high as $139.13 per barrel — its highest since July 2008.
The sharp rise in oil prices, which already recently spiked, came after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday Washington and its allies are considering banning Russian oil and natural gas imports.
“We now see the likelihood of Russian exports being directly impacted by sanctions as very high,” said Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategy at ANZ. “The move also suggests the market was not factoring in the potential for direct sanctions on Russia oil.”
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Vivek Dhar said it’s plausible for Brent to rise as high as $150 per barrel in the current environment.
“Before the crisis, oil markets were particularly vulnerable to an oil supply shock with global oil stockpiles at 7-year lows and OPEC+ spare capacity under question given disappointing OPEC+ oil supply growth over the last few months,” said Dhar, who is mining and energy commodities analyst at CBA.
Shares of oil firms in Asia-Pacific also saw big gains on Monday, with Beach Energy in Australia rising 4.95% while Woodside Petroleum soared 9.17% while the S&P/ASX 200’s energy subindex climbed 5.06%.
China’s exports rose 16.3% year-on-year in dollar-denominated terms in the January-February period, official data released Monday showed. That was above expectations by analysts in a Reuters poll for a 15% rise.
China had announced Saturday a gross domestic product growth target of about 5.5% for 2022.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 99.077 — having risen recently from levels below 97.6.
The Japanese yen traded at 114.91 per dollar, after strengthening sharply late last week from levels above 115.20 against the greenback. The Australian dollar was at $0.7407, following a general upward trek last week from below $0.72.
— CNBC’s Will Koulouris contributed to this report.