Asian stocks slipped as the dollar advanced on Thursday after hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reinforced the case for an interest rate hike later this month.
Australian shares fell 0.6 percent and South Korea’s Kospi .KS11 shed 1 percent. Shares in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore also declined.
Shanghai shares .SSEC bucked the trend and were last up 0.5 percent, brushing aside a Caixin/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index showing China’s services sector growth cooling in November. Weak indicators often stir hopes of government stimulus, providing a burst of support for Chinese shares.
Japan’s Nikkei .N225 eased from 3-month highs and stood nearly flat, bound in narrow range as a wait-and-see mood prevailed ahead of the European Central Bank’s policy decision due later in the session.
Fighting stubbornly low inflation, the ECB is expected to deliver measures that could include a deposit rate cut and changes to its asset-buying program.
“The ECB’s decision will likely set the direction for the Japanese market tomorrow and beyond, but it’s also true that the market is seen overbought recently,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.
MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.5 percent after Wall Street slid overnight on Yellen’s comments.
The Fed chair said Wednesday she was “looking forward” to a U.S. interest rate hike that will be seen as a testament to the economy’s recovery.
Her comments come after expectations for a Fed rate hike at the central bank’s Dec. 15-16 policy meeting were slightly shaken by poor manufacturing data released earlier in the week.
However, faith in the U.S. economy was partially restored by Wednesday’s stronger-than-expected ADP private employment report. ECONUS
The dollar index advanced to a 12-1/2-year high of 100.51 .DXY following Yellen’s comments and the upbeat data. It last stood at 100.13.
The euro dipped 0.2 percent to $1.0594 EUR= as the markets braced for the ECB.
“There is great potential for euro volatility as the ECB announces its policy decision, followed by the press conference by President (Mario) Draghi starting 45 minutes later,” wrote Sean Callow, a senior strategist at Westpac.
“Draghi and selected colleagues have clearly signaled that there is sufficient risk of undershooting the ECB’s inflation target to warrant further loosening of monetary settings.”
While the prospects of further ECB easing dogged the euro, expectations of added stimulus have lifted European stocks. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3touched a 3-month high this week.
In commodities, crude oil bounced modestly on bargain hunting following a tumble overnight prompted by surging U.S. stockpiles and a stronger dollar.
U.S. crude CLc1 was up 1.2 percent at $40.43 a barrel after tumbling 4 percent overnight. Crude was still capped with OPEC widely expected not to opt for a production cut at Friday’s meeting despite a global supply glut.
Spot gold XAU= stooped to $1,045.85 an ounce, its lowest since February 2010. Higher interest rates would diminish the allure of non-yielding gold and a stronger greenback makes the dollar-denominated metal more expensive for buyers.
Industrial metals also remained under pressure amid global oversupply and shrinking Chinese demand, with spot iron ore prices plumbing 10-year lows this week.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange CMCU3 was down 0.5 percent at $4,540.50 a ton. Copper edged back toward a 6-year low of $4,443.50 touched late last month with pleas for Chinese government intervention providing little tonic.
China’s major copper producers asked the government this week to buy the metal, joining a growing chorus in the country’s base metal industry that is pleading for state intervention.
Nine Oil Producing States Pocket N625bn in 2 Years
The federal government has revealed that Nine oil-producing states pocket N625.43 billion as 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy, and SURE-P refunds in just two years.
This was made known in a statement released on Friday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
According to the statement, the states that benefited from the refunds include Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers States. Garba Shehu, however, added that the states still have about N1.1 billion as outstanding benefits due to them. He added that the refund has been accumulated since 1999.
Making reference to the comments made by the Governor of Rivers State, the Presidency noted that the Buhari-led regime will continue to render equal service to all the states regardless of affiliation, Investors King learnt.
Between October 2, 2021, and January 11, 2022, the presidential spokesman disclosed that the states were paid in eight instalments, while the ninth to 12th instalments are still outstanding.
Meanwhile, Garba recalled that data obtained from the Federation Account Department, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, showed that a total of N477.2 billion was released to the nine states as a refund of the 13 percent derivation fund on withdrawal from Excess Crude Account (ECA), without deducting derivation from 2004 to 2019, leaving an outstanding balance of N287.04 billion.
“Abia State received N4.8 billion with an outstanding sum of N2.8 billion, Akwa-Ibom received N128 billion with an outstanding sum of N77 billion, Bayelsa with N92.2bn, leaving an outstanding of N55 billion”.
“Cross River got a refund N1.3 billion with a balance N792 million, Delta State received N110 billion, leaving a balance of N66.2 billion, Edo State received N11.3 billion, with a balance of N6.8 billion, Imo State, N5.5 billion, with an outstanding sum of N3.3 billion, Ondo State, N19.4 billion with an outstanding sum of N11.7bn while Rivers State was paid 103.6 billion, with an outstanding balance of N62.3 billion” the statement read.
According to the presidential spokesperson, states also got N64.8 billion as a refund of the 13 percent derivation fund on deductions made by Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited without payment of derivation to Oil Producing states from 1999 to December.
Garba concluded that the president has approved the outstanding payment of N860.59 billion from the refunds which will soon be released to the benefiting states.
Oil prices have rebounded strongly over the last few days – up around 10% from the lows – buoyed by the prospect of a lower price cap on Russian crude
By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA
We’re seeing green flashing across the board on Thursday, with sentiment buoyed by positive signals on Fed rate hikes and China’s Covid response.
While it could be argued that Jerome Powell’s comments on Wednesday were relatively balanced – slower tightening now but rates high for longer – the last year has proven that anticipating the path of inflation even a short period ahead is incredibly difficult. Knowing what the Fed intends to do next is far more valuable than what it thinks it may do 6-12 months down the line.
And anything that is perceived to reduce to possibility of an interest rate recession is going to be a positive for equity markets. The Fed has every opportunity to tighten more in the months ahead if the data doesn’t play ball. What’s far more difficult is undoing the damage caused by moving too fast now with little to no visibility on how impactful past tightening has been.
The signals coming from China also look very positive. While we shouldn’t expect a dramatic shift in policy from the leadership, particularly before the March Congress, any modest softening in its Covid-zero policy will and should be welcomed. The approach has been extremely damaging to growth and confidence and the protests highlight how public opinion towards it is changing.
We shouldn’t be naive to the fact that a move away from the policy won’t be easy and there’ll be plenty of setbacks. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction that, along with the measures announced to revive the property market, could put the economy on a much better path.
A huge few days for oil markets
Oil prices have rebounded strongly over the last few days – up around 10% from the lows – buoyed by the prospect of a lower price cap on Russian crude, another large production cut from OPEC+ this weekend, and China’s evolving Covid stance. There remains considerable uncertainty surrounding all of the above though which will likely ensure prices remain volatile going into the weekend. That could carry more risk than normal if the OPEC+ meeting does go ahead as planned on Sunday and the EU hasn’t agreed to the price cap level by the close of play Friday. The range of possibilities on these two things alone is huge which will make rumours and speculation over the coming day or two all the more impactful.
Gold testing range highs
Gold bulls were particularly happy with Powell’s comments on Wednesday with the yellow metal rallying strongly to trade at the upper end of its recent range. It faces strong resistance around $1,780 though which was a significant level of support in the first half of the year. With so much data to come over the next day or so, it may not prove particularly resilient if traders are given further hope that rates will rise more slowly and peak lower.
Some relief for cryptos
The risk relief rally is coming at just the right time for bitcoin, helping it to recover from the lows to trade around $17,000. This is around the highs of the last few weeks since it settled after its latest plunge. Whether it will be enough to revive interest in the cryptocurrency, I’m not sure. The FTX fallout is continuing to weigh heavily on the space and the prospect of more contagion or scandals is hard to ignore.
Oil Revenue into Foreign Reserve Dropped From $3bn Monthly in 2014 to Zero in 2022
The official foreign exchange receipt from crude oil sales into Nigeria’s official reserves has dried up steadily from above US$3.0 billion monthly in 2014 to an absolute zero dollar today, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele disclosed.
Speaking at the 57th annual bankers’ dinner organized by the Chartered Institute of bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Lagos, the CBN governor noted that there has been a significant loss in foreign reserves due to the naira’s struggle and the rise in demand for forex.
He added that the sharp increase in the number of Nigerians who are seeking education in foreign countries particularly the UK has resulted in an unprecedented demand for foreign exchange.
According to him, the number of student visas issued to Nigerians by the UK alone has increased from an annual average of about 8,000 visas as of 2020 to nearly 66,000 in 2022.
Emefiele also lamented about the level of crude oil theft in Nigeria which has significantly affected the country’s oil production. He noted that crude oil theft has adversely impacted the Country’s foreign exchange reserves.
Investors King had earlier reported that Nigeria has lost its coveted position as Africa’s largest oil producer after oil production dropped below the mark of 1 million barrels per day.
Nigeria currently trails Angola, Libya and Algeria to the fourth position.
Meanwhile, on the Naira-4-Dollar scheme which the CBN introduced to boost migrant remittances into the Nigerian economy, the CBN governor noted that the scheme has largely been successful.
“I am happy to note that, so far, the Naira-for-Dollar scheme has been successful in increasing remittance inflows through our registered International Money Transfer Organisation (IMTOs),” he said.
Emefiele also noted that the introduction of the National Domestic Card Scheme (NDCS) will help to reduce the operating cost incurred by commercial banks while using foreign cards.
It could be recalled that the CBN earlier announced that it planned to introduce Nigeria-made transactional cards to replace well-known cards such as Visa and MasterCard.
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