Markets look to oil as well as quake

INEVITABLY, traders will be keeping an eye on how the Tokyo market closes. The earthquake hit just before the cash equity market on the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed on Friday, but index futures traded in Singapore and then Chicago on Friday rightly indicated the benchmark Nikkei 225 index would open well below 10,000. The Bank of Japan met today and released 7 trillion yen to markets.

As sobering as the news from Japan was, Western markets had a full day of trading to digest the potential economic impact of the quake and tsunami, and the negatives for here may well be more of an overall sapping of investor confidence, rather than direct major financial consequences. US stock markets actually closed up on Friday despite the devastation in Japan, finding solace from a dip in the price of oil.

GFT is quoting the FTSE 100 index to open up 22 points from Friday’s close, at a level of 5,850. Elsewhere the German DAX is called up 31 points at 7,012, and the French CAC is quoted up 15 points to open at 3,943.

Oil will continue to be a major factor this week. The drop in crude prices on Friday came amid hopes that OPEC members will begin to increase production to make up for the shortfall from Libya. The earthquake also played a part, with Japan being the third largest oil importer in the world. WTI sweet light crude dipped back below $100 per barrel, as low as $99.01 Political protests in Saudi Arabia – the world’s largest exporter of oil – will also be very closely watched.

Martin Slaney is director of GFT’s global dealing operations