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Sept. 15, 2019, 11:22 p.m. EDT

Asian markets mostly fall as crude prices soar

Hang Seng slides amid more worrying economic news from China

By Marketwatch and Associated Press

Associated Press
Storage tanks are seen at the North Jiddah bulk plant, an Aramco oil facility, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday..

Asian markets mostly fell in early trading Monday as global crude futures soared following the weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery  , the U.S. benchmark contract, was up 10.4%, or $5.71, at $60.57 a barrel on electronic exchange Globex on Sunday, on track for its largest daily gain since February 2016. November Brent crude   jumped $6.97, or 11.6%, to trade at $67.18 a barrel, which would also mark the sharpest daily rise for the international benchmark grade since February 2016.

Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil fields knocked out about half that country’s oil production. Saudi officials said Sunday they expect to regain about one-third of that output capacity by Monday, but experts said it may take weeks for production to return to normal levels. Top U.S. officials blamed Iran — which denied responsibility — and President Donald Trump warned the U.S. was “locked and loaded,” suggested possible military action.

Separately, investors were dealt worrying information about China’s economy. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in an interview it will be “very difficult” for the country’s economy to grow at an annual rate of 6% or more in the current global climate, Reuters reported Sunday. China is aiming for GDP growth this year of 6% to 6.5%, and in the second quarter, GDP rose 6.2%, its slowest rate in 27 years.

Furthermore, data showed China’s industrial production growth in August was 4.4% year-over-year, the weakest reading in more than 17 years, Reuters reported . Analysts had expected 5.2% growth.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HONG:HK:HSI)   fell 1% and the Shanghai Composite (SHG:CN:SHCOMP)   was about flat, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite (SHENHZEN:CN:399106)   inched up 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi (KOREA:KR:180721)   gained 0.5%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan (TAIWAN:TW:Y9999)  , Singapore (SES:SG:STI)   and Indonesia (INDONESIA:ID:JAKIDX)   were mixed. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (S&P:AU:XJO)   was about flat. Japan’s Nikkei was closed for a holiday.

Among individual stocks, oil producer CNOOC (HKG:HK:883)   surged in Hong Kong, while Geely Automobile (HKG:HK:175)   and Tencent (HKG:HK:700)   fell. LG Electronics (KRX:KR:066570)   rose in South Korea while SK Hynix (KRX:KR:000660)   sank. Beach Energy (ASX:AU:BPT)  , Oil Search   and BHP (ASX:AU:BHP)   soared in Australia.

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