China worry rocks market

Marion Dakers
FRESH concerns about a slowdown in China’s economy yesterday sent a shudder through global markets, including the oil trade, which saw the price of crude drop at its sharpest level in two weeks.

China yesterday hiked its retail fuel prices for the second time in six weeks, sparking fears of lower demand from the world’s second-largest oil consumer.

Concerns about the scale of China’s economic slowdown were also raised by mining giant BHP Billiton, which said it saw signs of “flattening” iron ore demand from the country.

The FTSE 100 closed down 1.2 per cent, its fastest drop in a fortnight. The Dow Jones closed the day off 0.5 per cent, propelled downwards by energy and industrial stocks.

Mining stocks were also hard hit, while copper also fell almost two per cent, having hit a two-week high on Friday. China accounts for 40 per cent of global refined copper demand.

The price of Brent crude fell to around $124.10 a barrel, with the commodity also pushed down by Saudi Arabia’s pledge to ramp up its supply to an all-time high if needed.

Saudi oil minister Ali Naima called the current price “unjustified” and said the country is “ready and willing to put more oil on the market”.