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from Anatole Kaletsky:

Why markets ignore good news from U.S. to focus on bad news from Europe

A trader watches the screen at his terminal on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York

What’s spooking the markets?

One thing we can say for sure is that it is not the slightly weaker-than-expected retail sales that triggered the mayhem on Wall Street on Wednesday morning. Most U.S. economic data have actually been quite strong in the month since Wall Street peaked on Sept. 19.

So to find an economic rationale for the biggest stock-market decline since 2011, we have to consider two other explanations.

The first is the collapse of oil prices, down almost 30 percent since late June in response to Saudi Arabia’s apparent decision to wreck the economics of U.S. shale oil. Falling oil prices are generally beneficial for the world economy -- and for most businesses outside the energy sector.  But investors now fleeing from natural-resource stocks will take time to recycle their money into other industries, such as airlines, retailers and auto manufacturers. Until this rotation happens, broad stock-market indices are dragged down by the plunging oil shares, a process visible almost every day in the past two weeks, especially in the last hour of trading.

A trader watches the screen at his terminal on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New YorkIf falling oil prices were the main causes of the market setback, it would not be a big problem. There is, however, a far more worrying explanation: Europe. Not just the obvious weakness of the European economy, but the inability or unwillingness of European Union policymakers to agree on a sensible response.

from Expert Zone:

The benefits of falling oil prices for India

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

The fall in global oil prices couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for India. In August, oil imports dropped 15 percent year-on-year, driven primarily by a fall of $10 per barrel in prices. Brent has fallen below $100 over the past month, and could slip further. Increasing supplies from the United States and slowing demand are contributing to the weakness in prices.

from Breakingviews:

New oil dynamics may challenge crude growth logic

By Christopher Swann and Kevin Allison 

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Fears for the wobbly world economy have pushed Brent crude below $100 a barrel for the first time since July. Long-term trends at work in the oil market mean it could stay depressed. That’s good, since cheaper energy helps industry. Better still, booming shale output, greater efficiency and the rise of natural gas as a rival transport fuel may keep the oil price subdued even as growth is stimulated.

from Global Investing:

Is the rouble overhyped?

For many months now the Russian rouble has been everyone's favourite currency. Thanks to all the interest it rose 4 percent against the dollar during the July-September quarter. How long can the love affair last?

It is easy to see why the rouble is in favour. The central bank last month raised interest rates to tame inflation and might do so again on Friday. The  implied yield on 12-month rouble/dollar forwards  is at 6 percent -- among the highest in emerging markets.  It has also been boosted by cash flowing into Russian local bond market, which is due to be liberalised in coming months. Above all, there is the oil price which usually gets a strong boost from Fed QE.  So despite worries about world growth, Brent crude prices are above $110 a barrel. Analysts at Barclays are among those who like the rouble, predicting it to hit 30.5 per dollar by end-2012, up from current levels of 31.12.

from Breakingviews:

Saudi’s foreign aid bill piles up

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign aid bill is mounting. Egypt Jordan, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen - the Arab spring has elicited a string of pledges of loans and grants from the oil-rich kingdom to its troubled, resource-poor neighbours.

from Breakingviews:

Euro zone powerless to avoid big oil divide

By Kevin Allison and Christopher Swann

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Higher oil prices are yet another force pushing the euro area’s economies apart. They hit gross domestic product three times harder in Greece than in Germany, according to data from Moody’s Analytics. Ireland and Italy are big losers, too. With Iran worries driving prices higher and sovereign debt fears flaring up again, governments may be even more tempted to tap strategic petroleum reserves. But that won’t guarantee lower prices.

from Breakingviews:

Pricey exploration means dear oil is here to stay

By Christopher Swann and Kevin Allison

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Gas guzzlers may wait in vain for a return to cheap oil. Big producing nations like Saudi Arabia, which handed out cash to restive citizens during last year’s Arab Spring, need higher oil prices to balance their books. Meanwhile, a three-fold increase in the costs associated with extracting crude over the past decade has made expensive oil more a necessity than a luxury for energy firms, according to a Morningstar study. Put the two trends together and it looks like dear oil is here to stay.

from Breakingviews:

Saudi words won’t ease pressure on U.S. fuel prices

By Una Galani
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own

Saudi Arabia can't easily relieve Barack Obama's fuel price misery. The kingdom's assurances that it can and is willing to increase oil supply in the event of a shortage won't do much to lower U.S. fuel prices, which are reaching risky levels ahead of presidential elections in November. In fact, the options for the world's biggest oil supplier to rein in runaway crude are all imperfect.

from Breakingviews:

ECB cash palliates crisis but drives up oil price

By Ian Campbell

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

One trillion euros in European Central Bank cash has poured like a balm onto the euro zone’s stormy waters – and helped drive up the global oil price. ECB liquidity cannot solve the euro zone crisis and comes with major risks.

from Breakingviews:

Higher oil price should burn itself out

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

If $120 a barrel Brent crude is a threat to the global economy, someone had better tell the stock market. The MSCI World Index has largely kept pace with the rising price of oil this year. For now, stronger-than-expected economic growth appears to be overshadowing equity investors’ concerns about tight supplies of oil. Worries about Iran may keep trading volatile. But absent a serious flare-up in the Persian Gulf, any spike in crude prices should be mostly self-correcting.

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