Fears mount that markets are set for new crash and oil could plunge to $10 a barrel
- RBS tells investors ‘In a crowded hall, exit doors are small. Risks are high’
- Mass sell-off could be as severe as the 2008 market meltdown, bank says
- Oil price drop could see petrol fall to 86p a litre, says RAC
RBS urged investors to sell everything amid warnings that oil prices could fall to the lowest level in 17 years which may spark a meltdown as severe as the 2008 financial crisis.
The bank told investors stock markets could fall 20 per cent this year as it urged them to sell with a stark warning, saying: ‘In a crowded hall, exit doors are small. Risks are high.
The chilling warning came as oil prices fell to $30 a barrel for the first time since 2004 – but Standard Chartered said it might yet fall to as low as $10, not seen since 1998.
Financial crisis: Banks issue blood-curdling warnings after a torrid start to the year on financial markets
Huge losses: Japanese stocks tumble more than two percents on the Tokyo Stock Exchange market
Analysts warned of a ‘cataclysmic year’ ahead for investors and the global economy, BP said it would have to slash 4,000 posts around the world including 600 in the North Sea.
It would be a devastating blow for the North Sea oil industry already reeling from the slump in prices over the past 18 months, which have led pump prices to fall to around a pound a litre.
The horrifying warnings follow a torrid start to the year on financial markets, with billions of pounds wiped off stocks in the UK and elsewhere.
The FTSE 100 managed to finish up 1 per cent or 57.41 points at 5929.24 at the close yesterday, but it only barely regained the ground lost yesterday.
London’s top stock index saw £85billion wiped off its value after tumbling 5.2 per cent last week, during what is being dubbed the worst start to a New Year ever on world markets.
A string of banks including Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Societe Generale have slashed their 2016 oil forecasts this week, while Standard Chartered cautioned that the price could plummet to $10 a barrel.
But RBS sounded the strongest alert, issuing advice to clients saying ‘danger is lurking out there for every investor’ and ‘the downside is crystallising. Watch out. Sell (mostly) everything.’
It went on: ‘In a crowded hall, exit doors are small. Risks are high.’ Adding ‘this looks very much like 2008’, RBS suggested taking refuge in US and German government bonds.
UK motorists can look forward to lower petrol prices as the oil price tumbles, but the recent declines are causing chaos on financial markets which could end up tanking the global economy in the worst case scenario.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘This latest prediction of oil hitting just $10 a barrel would have the potential to take petrol prices down to around 86p per litre – the last time we saw average prices this low was in early 2009.
‘However, for prices to get this low the pound would have to get no weaker against the dollar than it is today.’
He added: ‘At $10 a barrel, tax would account for around 84 per cent of the total price per litre – a clear indication of just how high a proportion of every litre we buy goes straight to the Treasury.’
Slipping: The FTSE saw £85bn wiped off its value after tumbling 5.2 per cent last week, during what is being dubbed the worst start to a New Year ever on world markets
Oil is down nearly 75 per cent since trading above $115 in mid-2014. Six months ago it dropped to $56.8 a barrel, before falling below $40 in December .
Deirdre Michie, of industry lobby group Oil & Gas UK, said: ‘The plummeting oil price has impacted heavily on activity. Companies are having to take very difficult decisions in what continues to be a challenging time.’
The slump in oil prices has coincided with turmoil on global financial markets as the slowdown in China and higher interest rates in the US knock fragile confidence.
RBS warned that it could be a punishing setback for savers with pensions and other investments tied up in shares. A 20 per cent fall in stock markets would wipe more than £300billion off the value of Britain’s biggest companies.
In a gloomy report, RBS analyst Andrew Roberts said. ‘Equities have become very dangerous. Watch out. Sell mostly everything… The game is up. The world is in trouble.’
In its note to clients, the bank warned that ‘this all looks similar to 2008’ when the collapse of US banking giant Lehman Brothers triggered the global financial crisis. Mr Roberts advised investors to switch their money out of risky assets such as shares and into the safety of bonds.
The price plummet is due to a supply glut, China’s weakening economy and stock market turmoil, as well as the strong dollar, which makes it more expensive for those using other currencies to buy oil.
Prices have also been driven lower by a threat that markets will be flooded by even more oil when sanctions against Iran are lifted shortly.
China has tried to impose draconian measures to halt wild bouts of selling on its markets, but to little avail so far.
Analysts have started to warn that what looked like a market correction in one of the world’s biggest economies is becoming a full-blown crisis, which shows no signs of going away.