Asian markets were largely flat on Monday following lacklustre US trading at the end of last week and as nervousness over Chinese growth put pressure on global equities. After early gains, Hong Kong hovered between positive and negative territory, edging down 0.1 percent by afternoon trade. Tokyo made marginal gains as investors hunted for bargains. “Asia stocks are trading tentatively as global growth worries and uncertainty over the course for oil prices weighs on sentiment,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at OANDA. “Investors are… left to ponder if this is the beginning of a more definitive downturn or just another wobble.” China’s economy is in the spotlight this week, with key monthly data expected Wednesday and stocks tumbling last week on mounting concerns of a slowdown. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba took a record $30.7 billion in orders on Sunday during its annual “Singles Day” shopping frenzy. However sales growth slowed to 27 percent this year from 39 percent in 2017, adding to mounting concerns over the outlook for the Asian powerhouse. “But where we can get some comfort from this number is that Chinese consumers are slowing, not collapsing,” Junheng Li, founder of JL Warren Capital LLC, told Bloomberg News. China’s banking stocks were mixed Monday after the government gave new guidance on requirements for banks to lend to private companies. Last week bank shares dropped as investors balked at what were seen as unprecedented government demands on lenders. The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) edged up marginally in Hong Kong, while the China Construction Bank lost 0.5 percent. Oil rallies Markets across Asia were cautious through the day. Taiwan was flat in afternoon trading, Seoul slid 0.3 percent, and Sydney closed up just 0.3 percent. There was some relief on oil markets following last week’s slump, after a key meeting of producers took place in Abu Dhabi at the weekend. The OPEC group and its allies started laying the groundwork to cut supply in 2019, reversing an almost year-long expansion. Khalid al-Falih, energy minister of the world’s top supplier Saudi Arabia, said the kingdom would cut its production by 500,000 barrels per day in the face of oversupply fears. Oil prices advanced through Monday, with both Brent Crude and WTI seeing gains. Innes said it was in OPEC’s “best interests to tame the current supply glut”. Last week, higher US energy stockpiles drove benchmark WTI crude to its longest losing streak in more than 30 years, while Brent Crude dropped below $70 a barrel for the first time since April. Key figures Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 22,269.88 (close) Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 25,601.14 Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,624.41 Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1303 from $1.1351 at 2200 GMT Friday Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2888 from $1.3022 Dollar/yen: UP at 114.09 yen from 113.76 yen Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 85 cents at $61.05 per barrel Oil – Brent Crude: UP $1.39 at $71.57 per barrel New York – Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 25,989.30 (close) London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,105.34 (close). Published in Daily Times, November 13th 2018.