Asian stocks were mixed after opening on the first trading day of the new week. Energy stocks are mostly down due to another retreat in global oil prices. Oil prices continued Friday's slide due to ongoing concern over excessive supply after last week's US rig count grew for the first time since December 2015. This implies pressure on "commodity-driven" assets, which includes Indonesian stocks and the rupiah. The Indonesian rupiah had depreciated 0.27 percent to IDR 13,152 per US dollar (Bloomberg Dollar Index), while the benchmark Jakarta Composite Index was down 0.07 percent by 09:15 am local Jakarta time.
With no other key macroeconomic data to digest today (and Japan closed for a public holiday), investors are expected to make decisions based on the movement of the oil price and the Federal Reserve's dovish tone after its policy meeting last week. While sliding oil prices should soften risk sentiment, the dovish tone of the Federal Reserve should in fact boost risk-taking (particularly on the medium term). These two factors lead to the mixed performance of stock markets in Asia this morning.
By 09:15 am local Jakarta time on Monday (21/03), China's Shanghai Composite Index was up 1.74 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index had risen 0.28 percent, South Korea's Kospi was down 0.11 percent, while Singapore's Straits Times Index had fallen 0.96 percent.
Global oil prices dropped dramatically starting from mid-2014, sliding from above USD $100 per barrel-levels to USD $26 - $27 per barrel, 12-year lows, in January 2016. Talks among the key oil producing countries about an oil freeze, and rising gasoline consumption in the USA managed to cause a rebound in the past two weeks. Global oil prices are now around USD $39 per barrel.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve trimmed its expected number of interest rate hikes in 2016 at its March policy meeting. The Fed still sees a fragile US economy amid slower global growth and turmoil in world markets linked to low oil price.