Financial sector stress delivers fresh jolt

February 8, 2016 09:21 AM

Speculators slashed bullish bets on the dollar for a sixth straight week through Feb. 2, according to data on Friday from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Weak U.S. economic data recently has led investors to pare back their bets on steady interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve though the latest CFTC figures do not take account of Friday's U.S. jobs report. It showed a pick-up in wage growth last month and dented the view on the Fed outlook.

Crude oil futures skidded over 2% to just over $33 by 5.15 a.m. ET, as a meeting between OPEC producers Saudi Arabia and Venezuela provided little indication that steps would be taken to boost prices. Earlier, oil had gained as much as 1% on hopes that an agreement would be reached to curb supply.

Earlier, Asian shares fell, though trade was thin with many markets shut for the Lunar New Year holiday. Chinese markets are shut for the whole week.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.4%, though Japan's Nikkei ended up 1.1%

Data over the weekend showed China's foreign reserves fell for a third straight month in January, as dollars were dumped to defend the yuan and curb capital outflows. The fall was less than forecast but was the second biggest on record.

Beijing has been struggling to underpin the yuan, which faces depreciation pressure as China's growth rate slows to its lowest levels in a quarter of a century.

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