Reopening States Goose Oil Prices, Giving Markets Some Lift

Sheila Kelly, owner of Powell’s Steamer Co. & Pub in Placerville, Calif., stands behind makeshift barriers on May 13, as she helps patrons at her restaurant. It was the first day Kelly was serving in-dining meals since the state’s lockdown order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. El Dorado County was one of the first counties to win approval from the state to reopen for dining-in. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

MANHATTAN (CN) — With investors cheered by increasing oil prices but wary of a deepening U.S.-China divide, Wall Street gained back some of last week’s losses.

At the opening bell Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped up nearly 700 points, a 2.8% increase. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq increased 2.4% and 1.8% each, respectively.

In Europe, most markets also were marching toward a positive close, with Germany’s DAX up more than 4% and the pan-European Stoxx 600 gaining more than 3%. Markets in Asia closed with very minor gains on Monday.

Increasing oil prices, spurred by various states’ reopening, helped drive the rally. Prices on the West Texas Intermediate, whose June contract closes on Tuesday, increased nearly 9% to more than $32 per barrel. The international oil benchmark, the Brent, also increased on Monday, gaining more than 6% to $34 per barrel. 

But already high tensions between China and the United States also grew over the weekend. 

On Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department announced it was both refining its “Entity List” to prevent Shenzhen-based technology and telecommunications company Huawei from acquiring U.S.-made semiconductors or using U.S. software and technology from companies like Google. 

Citing national-security reasons, the United States last year added Huawei and more than 100 of its affiliates to the list, which requires foreign semiconductor companies to first obtain a license before selling semiconductor chips to Huawei.

U.S. officials say Huawei, one of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers, has found ways to work around the 2019 blacklist. The company’s CFO remains in Canadian custody, facing extradition on charges that she tried to sell technology to Iran in violation of sanctions.

“This is not how a responsible global corporate citizen behaves,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tweeted on Friday. “We must amend our rules exploited by Huawei and HiSilicon and prevent U.S. technologies from enabling malign activities contrary to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”

U.S. officials have claimed Huawei — and by extension, China — could use U.S. semiconductors to conduct surveillance via the company’s telecom networks.

In translated remarks, Huawei Chairman Guo Ping reportedly called the decision “arbitrary and pernicious” and said the United States was “leveraging its own technological strengths to crush companies outside its own borders.”  

China also has pushed back against the new regulations. A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce said over the weekend China would take “all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.”

“The U.S. uses state power, under the so-called excuse of national security, and abuses export authority control measures to continuously oppress and contain specific enterprises of other countries,” the spokesperson added.

On Monday, China threatened to place Apple and other U.S. companies on an “unreliable entity list” in response to the Huawei restrictions.  

After months of tariffs and economic saber-rattling, the United States and China reached a trade deal in February. As part of the deal, China would purchase $200 billion in additional U.S. imports in exchange for lower tariffs.

Relations between the two superpowers have again soured in recent weeks, however, with administration officials having blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic and promising some form of retribution

President Trump blamed China over the weekend for the coronavirus-related economic downturn. “Prior to the Plague floating in from China, our Economy was blowing everybody away, the best of any country, EVER,” Trump tweeted. “We will be there again, and soon!”

More than 4.7 million people worldwide have been confirmed infected by Covid-19, according to data from researchers at Johns Hopkins University, and 315,000 have died. In the United States, more than 1.4 million people have contracted the novel coronavirus and nearly 90,000 have died.

%d bloggers like this: