HONG KONG (AFP) - Oil extended gains in Asian trade Tuesday after a gathering of top producers fell apart without any agreement on a plan to lift output despite stockpiles shrinking and demand surging along with the global economic recovery.
The breakdown of talks between OPEC and other key crude nations raised the possibility of $100 a barrel -- a level not seen since 2014 -- and stoking fresh fears about inflation, which could force central banks to taper their monetary policy or hike interest rates earlier than thought.
Still, equity markets remained largely buoyant in early business, though the US Independence Day break Monday meant there were few buying catalysts. However, Hong Kong’s tech firms remained under pressure owing to fears that a new crackdown on the sector by Chinese authorities will make them unattractive to investors.
But eyes are on oil after Brent broke above $77 for the first time since 2018 while WTI also rallied.
The OPEC+ group on Monday cancelled a planned meeting that was supposed to overcome an impasse between the United Arab Emirates and other members on how to lift output. No new date has been set.
The countries have been slowly lifting production in recent months after turning the taps down last year in response to a collapse in prices caused by virus lockdowns.
With demand rocketing on the back of the global rebound -- and the US holiday driving season underway -- officials had planned to hike output by 400,000 barrels a day each month from August to December, but the deadlock means no new supplies will be forthcoming.
But while prices are spiralling higher, analysts said there were several possible scenarios. In one, there is no deal and no increase in production, sending oil prices shooting up, while another sees the grouping falling apart and countries fight for market share by slashing prices.
- Fed paying attention -
"The failure of OPEC+ to come to an agreement will only add further uncertainty to the oil market," Warren Patterson, of ING Group NV, said. "Assuming we don’t get a quick resolution, the uncertainty over OPEC+ output in the months ahead does suggest increased volatility."
The brewing crisis has also brought inflation back into play, with the rally in commodities playing a key role in the spike in prices around the world in recent months.
The risk of oil at $100 a barrel "is so correlated with short-run inflation that it will make the market very, very edgy, and we know that the Federal Reserve is both watching the economic data but also markets", Alan Higgins, at Coutts & Co, told Bloomberg TV.
On equity markets, most regional bourse were higher with Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta all positive.
However, Hong Kong extended Monday’s losses as traders remain on edge following Beijing’s ban of Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing from app stores after a probe of its use of personal data, days after the firm’s massive New York IPO.
Mainland officials then widened their probe to two other US-traded Chinese tech firms, leading to concerns about a fresh drive against the industry.
Shanghai and Wellington were also lower.
Traders are now awaiting the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting hoping for an idea about its plans for monetary policy as the recovery in the world’s top economy thunders along.