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Global Stocks on Brink of Bear Market as Oil Slides; Ruble Sinks

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London Stock Exchange Group Plc

Turmoil returned to global markets as oil plunged and European stocks sank to the lowest levels in 13 months, fueling a rush into haven assets.

Earnings exacerbated the rout, sending MSCI Inc.’s gauge of global equities to the brink of a bear market. Russia’s ruble and Mexico’s peso fell to records, while bets mounted on an end to Hong Kong’s dollar peg. Yields on 10-year Treasuries dropped below 2 percent and the yen jumped to a one-year high.

“There are a lot of things behind” the selloff, said Steven Schwarzman, the chief executive officer of Blackstone Group LP, in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker from Davos, Switzerland. “You have economic things such as the slowing of the U.S. economy which has been pretty gradual. You’ve got energy going down so quickly that you can almost get windburn. You’ve got China as an issue which is is probably overdone. So when you put those factors together you have an unattractive brew along with the concern the Federal Reserve will raise rates and slow the economy further.”

Oil’s slump to a 12-year low is ripping through markets. Just on Wednesday, Royal Dutch Shell Plc said profit may drop at least 42 percent in the fourth quarter and Saudi Arabia was said to order a halt in selling options used to bet against its currency peg. U.S. bonds now predict the slowest inflation since May 2009. A report on Thursday will probably show U.S. crude stockpiles expanded, exacerbating the global glut.

“It’s back to oil and that’s what is driving everything,” said Barra Sheridan, a rates trader at Bank of Montreal in London. “We can easily run more because it’s pure fear. I don’t know what we need to change this sentiment.”

Stocks

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index tumbled 2.5 percent at 8:35 a.m. in New York, with all industry groups declining. The MSCI All-Country World Index retreated 1.2 percent, extending its drop from a May high to 18.6 percent, nearing the 20 percent threshold for a bear market. More than $15 trillion has been erased from the value of global equities in the period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shell slid 5.5 percent and BHP Billiton Ltd. dragged commodity producers lower, falling 6.9 percent after trimming its full-year iron ore output forecast. Zurich Insurance Group AG declined 8.7 percent after forecasting a second straight quarterly loss for its biggest unit.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures slid 1.6 percent. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slipped 1.9 percent after reporting a 65 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit as an agreement to settle a U.S. probe into its handling of mortgage-backed securities reduced earnings.
The cost of living in the U.S. dropped in December, led by a slump in commodities, and New-home construction in the U.S. unexpectedly fell, government reports showed to day.

Emerging Markets

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index dropped the most in two weeks, sinking 2.8 percent to the lowest on a closing basis since May 2009. The gauge is down more than 12.6 percent this year, the worst start since records began in 1988.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng China Enterprises Index tumbled 4.3 percent as oil producers plummeted and a drop in the city’s dollar spurred concern over capital outflows. The Shanghai Composite Index slipped 1 percent.

Russia’s Micex Index declined 1 percent and the Bloomberg GCC 200 Index of equities in Gulf markets lost 3.6 percent. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index sank 5 percent and Dubai shares slid 4.6 percent. Egypt’s benchmark tumbled 5.3 percent.
Russia’s ruble weakened as much as 3.1 percent to a record 81.0490 against the dollar. The Mexican peso fell to a record 18.4775 per dollar and is down 6.4 percent this year, making it Latin America’s worst performing major currency.

Saudi Arabian banks are under orders to stop selling currency products that allow investors to make cheap bets on a devaluation of the riyal, according to five people with knowledge of the matter. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency told banks not to sell options contracts on riyal forwards at a meeting in Riyadh on Jan 18., the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Hong Kong’s dollar traded near its weakest level since 2007 and forwards contracts sank as China’s market turmoil fueled speculation the city’s 32-year-old currency peg will end. Contracts to buy the currency in 12 months fell as much as 0.3 percent to HK$7.8904 per dollar, beyond the HK$7.75-HK$7.85 range that it can trade within under the existing exchange-rate system. The spot rate dropped to as low as HK$7.8272, within 0.35 percent of the weak end of its band.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude lost as much as 4 percent to $27.32 a barrel before trading 3 percent lower. Inventories probably increased by 2.75 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey before a report from the Energy Information Administration Thursday.

Industrial metals dropped on prospects for slower economic growth in China and sustained low oil prices. Copper fell as much as 1.1 percent.

Gold rose as renewed losses in equities spurred demand for less risky assets, with Citigroup Inc. saying bullion’s rationale as a haven was now back in vogue and prices may be supported over the first quarter.

Soybeans in Chicago dropped from the highest in almost four weeks on bets that ample supply in South America will damp prices.

Currencies

The yen strengthened 0.8 percent to 116.68 per dollar, and touched 115.98, the strongest level since Jan. 16, 2015. Japan’s currency appreciated 0.9 percent to 127.19 per euro. The euro was little changed at $1.0908.

The Australian dollar slid 0.8 percent to 68.52 U.S. cents, extending this year’s decline to 6. percent. The kiwi touched the weakest level since Sept. 30.

The Canadian dollar, which has fallen every day this year, slipped to the lowest since 2003 amid speculation the central bank will cut its benchmark interest rate to a level last seen during the 2009 financial crisis.

The Bank of Canada decides on interest rates Wednesday, and private-sector economists are almost evenly divided on whether it will cut the policy rate to 0.25 percent.

Bonds

Treasuries climbed, pushing 10-year yields to the lowest since October, as investors sought the safety of sovereign debt. The benchmark 10-year note yield fell nine basis points to 1.97 percent, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader data. That’s the biggest drop since Dec. 11.

The difference between yields on 10-year notes and similar-maturity Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, a gauge of expectations for consumer prices, shrank as much as three basis points to 1.37 percentage points, the narrowest since May 2009.

The yield on similar-maturity German bunds sank five basis points to 0.50 percent, while that on U.K. gilts fell seven basis points to 1.63 percent.

The cost of insuring corporate debt resumed increases. The Markit iTraxx Europe Index of credit-default swaps on investment-grade companies rose for the 10th time in 11 days, climbing three basis points to 99 basis points. An index of default swaps on junk-rated companies jumped 19 basis points to 397 basis points, the highest in more than a year.

Bloomberg

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Oil Rises as Threat of Immediate Iran Supply Recedes

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Oil prices rose on Tuesday, with Brent gaining for a fourth consecutive session, as the prospect of extra supply coming to the market soon from Iran faded with talks dragging on over the United States rejoining a nuclear agreement with Tehran.

Brent crude was up by 82 cents, or 1.13%, to $73.68 per barrel, having risen 0.2% on Monday. U.S. oil gained 91 cents, or 1.3%, to $71.79 a barrel, having slipped 3 cents in the previous session.

Indirect discussions between the United States and Iran, along with other parties to the 2015 deal on Tehran’s nuclear program, resumed on Saturday in Vienna and were described as “intense” by the European Union.

A U.S. return to the deal would pave the way for the lifting of sanctions on Iran that would allow the OPEC member to resume exports of crude.

It is “looking increasingly unlikely that we will see the U.S. rejoin the Iranian nuclear deal before the Iranian Presidential Elections later this week,” ING Economics said in a note.

Other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) along with major producers including Russia — a group known as OPEC+ — have been withholding output to support prices amid the pandemic.

“Additional supply from OPEC+ will be needed over the second half of this year, with demand expected to continue its recovery,” ING said.

To meet rising demand, U.S. drillers are also increasing output.

U.S. crude production from seven major shale formations is forecast to rise by about 38,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July to around 7.8 million bpd, the highest since November, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its monthly outlook.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rise as Demand Improves, Supplies Tighten

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Oil Prices - Investors King

Oil prices rose on Monday, hitting their highest levels in more than two years supported by economic recovery and the prospect of fuel demand growth as vaccination campaigns in developed countries accelerate.

Brent was up 53 cents, or 0.7%, at $73.22 a barrel by 1050 GMT, its highest since May 2019.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate gained 44 cents, or 0.6%, to $71.35 a barrel, its highest since October 2018.

“The two leading crude markers are trading at (almost) two-and-a-half-year highs amid a potent bullish cocktail of demand optimism and OPEC+ supply cuts,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

“This backdrop of strengthening oil fundamentals have helped underpin heightened levels of trading activity.”

Motor vehicle traffic is returning to pre-pandemic levels in North America and much of Europe, and more planes are in the air as anti-coronavirus lockdowns and other restrictions are being eased, driving three weeks of increases for the oil benchmarks.

The mood was also buoyed by the G7 summit where the world’s wealthiest Western countries sought to project an image of cooperation on key issues such as recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the donation of 1 billion vaccine doses to poor nations.

“If the inoculation of the global population accelerates further, that could mean an even faster return of the demand that is still missing to meet pre-Covid levels,” said Rystad Energy analyst Louise Dickson.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday that it expected global demand to return to pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2022, more quickly than previously anticipated.

IEA urged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, known as OPEC+, to increase output to meet the rising demand.

The OPEC+ group has been restraining production to support prices after the pandemic wiped out demand in 2020, maintaining strong compliance with agreed targets in May.

On the supply side, heavy maintenance seasons in Canada and the North Sea also helped prices stay high, Dickson said.

U.S. oil rigs in operation rose by six to 365, the highest since April 2020, energy services company Baker Hughes Co said in its weekly report.

It was the biggest weekly increase of oil rigs in a month, as drilling companies sought to benefit from rising demand.

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Crude Oil

FG Spends N197.74 Billion on Subsidy in Q1 2021

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Crude oil - Investors King

The Federal Government has spent a total sum of N197.74 billion on fuel subsidy in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, according to the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) report for May.

The report noted that the value of shortfall, the amount the NNPC paid as subsidy, in the March receipts stood at N111.97 billion while N60.40 billion was paid in February.

In the three months ended March, the Federal Government spent N197.74 billion on subsidy.

The increase in subsidy was a result of rising oil prices, Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $73.13 per barrel on Monday.

The difference in landing price and selling price of a single litre is the subsidy paid by the government.

On May 19, the Nigerian Governors Forum suggested that the Federal Government removed the subsidy completely and pegged the pump price of PMS at N380 per litre.

The governors’ suggestion followed the non-remittance of the NNPC into the April FAAC payments, the money required by most states to meet their expenditure such as salaries and building of infrastructure.

However, experts have said Nigeria is not gaining from the present surge in global oil prices given the huge money spent on subsidy.

Kalu Aja, Abuja-based financial planner and economic expert, said “If Nigeria is importing Premium Motor Spirit and still paying subsidy, then there is no seismic shift.”

“Nigeria needs oil at $130 to meet the deficit. In the short term, however, more dollar cash flow is expected and with depreciated Naira, it will reduce short term deficit.”

Adedayo Bakare, a research analyst, said that the current prices do not really mean much for the country economically.

He said, “The ongoing transition away from fossil fuels and weak oil production from the output cuts by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries will not make the country benefit much from the rising oil prices.

“Oil production used to be over two million barrels but now around 1.5 million barrels. We need OPEC to relax the output cuts for the naira to gain.”

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