FTSE 100 LIVE: Oil PLUMMETS as China ditches 2020 growth target amid pandemic

Brent crude was trading down $1.38, or 3.8 percent, at $34.68 a barrel by 0420 GMT, after falling as low as $33.54. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped by $1.79, or 5.3 percent, to $32.13 a barrel, having slumped to $30.72 earlier. Oil prices have risen sharply in recent weeks and are still on track for a fourth weekly gain after the depths plumbed in April when U.S. crude fell below zero.

READ MORE: China abandons 2020 GDP target as global economic uncertainty over COVID-19 pandemic soars

However, markets were disappointed at China’s decision not to set an economic growth target this year, as the National People’s Congress (NPC) kicked off a week-long meeting.

Abandoning the growth target “could be interpreted as putting less focus on infrastructure investment and could be viewed as negative for oil,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp.

“The commodity market, in general, was looking for a bigger infrastructure pump from the NPC so there is bound to be an element of disappointment,” he said.


6.16am update: Hong Kong leads Asian shares lower as Beijing readies new security law

Hong Kong shares tumbled on Friday after Beijing moved to impose a new security law on the city after last year’s pro-democracy unrest, risking fresh protests and further straining fast-deteriorating US-China ties.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 3.7 percent to a seven-week low, helping to pull down MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS 1.2 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.25 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.7 percent.

China is set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong, a Chinese official said on Thursday.

The decision drew a warning from President Donald Trump that Washington would react “very strongly” against the attempt to gain more control over the former British colony.

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