Oil prices sink further, dollar hit by wage data

Oil prices tumbled again Monday, while most Asian stock markets also retreated after a sell-off in New York at the end of last week in response to data showing weak US wage growth.

The news on wages, which overshadowed another forecast-beating rise in job creation, pushed the dollar down against the euro because it complicates the Federal Reserve’s plans to raise interest rates.

Sydney fell 0.78 percent, or 42.9 points, to close at 5,422.7 and Seoul closed 0.19 percent lower, or 3.75 points, at 1,920.95.

Shanghai — which has surged more than 50 percent over the past year — slipped 1.71 percent, or 56.09 points, to 3,229.32….

Crude prices have lost more than half their value since the middle of last year, with weakness in key markets China and the eurozone adding to the supply and demand crisis.

Wall Street provided a negative lead for stock markets after figures showed US wages grew 1.7 percent year-on-year in December, barely keeping up with inflation and indicating consumer spending power remained low….

Traders latched on to the data, ignoring the fact that unemployment fell to 5.6 percent, the lowest level in six and a half years, while 252,000 new posts were created in December to cap the best year for job creation since 1999.

“Despite the robust US jobs data, markets chose to focus on the weak wages growth and the likelihood that it will keep the Fed Reserve ‘patient’ about any rate hike,” United Overseas Bank said.

Economists took the report as allowing the Fed to delay raising interest rates. This dented speculation of an increase in April and made the dollar less attractive to investors.

“This tug of war between deflation and expectations of the first rate hike in many years by the US Fed is likely to result in intense volatility,” Nader Naeimi at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney, told Bloomberg TV….

From Yahoo News –

Eurozone Consumer Prices Fall, Stoking Deflation Fears‏

​Consumer prices fell in the eurozone for the first time since 2009, according to official data released on Wednesday, putting further pressure on the European Central Bank to act to prevent a downward price spiral that could further damage the fragile banking sector and undermine growth for years to come.

Consumer prices in the eurozone contracted by 0.2 percent in December compared with a year earlier, according to a preliminary report from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency. Even before the recent collapse in oil prices, inflation in the region had been falling amid slack spending by consumers and businesses that makes it difficult for companies to raise prices.

A separate report from Eurostat showed that the eurozone jobless rate was unchanged at 11.5 percent in November. For the 28-nation European Union, the unemployment rate was 10 percent, down from 10.1 percent in October.

By DAVID JOLLY & JACK EWING – New York Times –