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Oil Gains as OPEC Rekindles Hopes of Output Freeze

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All it took was a few words from OPEC to encourage oil bulls.

Money managers increased wagers on rising crude prices by the most since January as futures rebounded from a three-month low. Prices jumped after OPEC’s president said Aug. 8 the group will hold informal talks in Algiers next month and Saudi Arabia signaled Aug. 11 it’s prepared to discuss taking action to stabilize markets.

“The statement certainly achieved its purpose,” said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Markit. “The Saudis saw bearish bets had really driven down the prices.”

Talks between OPEC members and other producers may result in action to stabilize the market, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are in “constant deliberations,” according to a statement on OPEC’s website attributed to Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada, Qatar’s energy and industry minister and the group’s current president.

Hedge funds bolstered their long position in West Texas Intermediate crude by 17,154 futures and options combined during the week ended Aug. 9, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. WTI rose 8.3 percent to $42.77 a barrel in the report week. Prices advanced 1 percent to $44.95 a barrel as of 9:33 a.m. London time on Monday after posting the biggest weekly gain since April.

“The Saudis are very conscious of the financial markets and how they exaggerate price moves,” Yergin said.

Differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran caused the demise of a proposal to freeze production at an April summit in Doha. The kingdom insisted it wouldn’t restrain output without commitments from all OPEC members, including Iran, which has boosted crude production and exports after years of sanctions were lifted in January.

“A freeze may be on the table, maybe more,” said Mike Wittner, head of oil-market research at Societe Generale SA in New York. “The Saudi comments leave the door open to anything, as opposed to Doha where they killed the deal. The fact that the Saudis are open to any action is an important signal. The Iranians have pretty much done what they wanted to do, which will make them more open, and the Saudis seem open as well.”

Refinery Demand

Refiners around the world will process a record 80.6 million barrels a day of crude this quarter to absorb all-time high production from several Persian Gulf producers, the International Energy Agency said Aug. 11.

“The market is moving towards balance with a huge overhang,” Yergin said. “We see supply and demand roughly in balance, and if there are no additional disruptions prices should be in the mid $50s next year.”

Rising U.S. oil stockpiles and weakening demand from the nation’s refineries may weigh on prices. Crude supplies rose by 1.06 million barrels as of Aug. 5, Energy Information Administration data show. Over the past five years, refiners’ thirst for oil has fallen an average of 1.2 million barrels a day from July to October.

Money managers’ long position in WTI rose to 322,594 futures and options, the highest since May 2015, CFTC data show. Shorts, or bets on falling prices, increased 0.7 percent and were at a record for a second week. Net longs advanced 18 percent, the biggest jump since March.

Other Markets

In other markets, net-bearish bets on gasoline shrank 69 percent to 1,277 contracts. Gasoline futures rose 2.6 percent in the report week. Net-long wagers on U.S. ultra low sulfur diesel tumbled 72 percent to 1,984 contracts. Futures advanced 5.7 percent.

Not all analysts are convinced that the Saudi comments will translate into action.

“The Saudi statement could mean anything,” said Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in New York. “They said that there will be informal meeting of OPEC members on the sidelines. That could be anything from coffee and cake on a terrace to a closed-door meeting to decide on specific production proposals.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Crude Oil Production Falls for Second Consecutive Month, OPEC Reports

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s crude oil production declined for the second consecutive month in March, according to the latest report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Data obtained from OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report for April 2024 reveals that Nigeria’s crude oil production depreciated from 1.322 million barrels per day (mbpd) in February to 1.231 mbpd in March.

This decline underscores the challenges faced by Africa’s largest oil-producing nation in maintaining consistent output levels.

Despite efforts to stabilize production, Nigeria has struggled to curb the impact of oil theft and pipeline vandalism, which continue to plague the industry.

The theft and sabotage of oil infrastructure have resulted in significant disruptions, contributing to the decline in crude oil production observed in recent months.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) recently disclosed alarming statistics regarding oil theft incidents in the country.

According to reports, the NNPCL recorded 155 oil theft incidents within a single week, these incidents included illegal pipeline connections, refinery operations, vessel infractions, and oil spills, among others.

The persistent menace of oil theft poses a considerable threat to Nigeria’s economy and its position as a key player in the global oil market.

The illicit activities not only lead to revenue losses for the government but also disrupt the operations of oil companies and undermine investor confidence in the sector.

In response to the escalating problem, the Nigerian government has intensified efforts to combat oil theft and vandalism.

However, addressing these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach, including enhanced security measures, regulatory reforms, and community engagement initiatives.

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Oil Prices Edge Higher Amidst Fear of Middle East Conflict

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Crude Oil

Amidst growing apprehensions of a potential conflict in the Middle East, oil prices have inched higher as investors anticipate a strike from Iran.

The specter of a showdown between Iran or its proxies and Israel has sent tremors across the oil market as traders brace for possible supply disruptions in the region.

Brent crude oil climbed above the $90 price level following a 1.1% gain on Wednesday while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) hovered near $86.

The anticipation of a strike, believed to be imminent by the United States and its allies, has cast a shadow over market sentiment. Such an escalation would follow Iran’s recent threat to retaliate against Israel for an attack on a diplomatic compound in Syria.

The trajectory of oil prices this year has been heavily influenced by geopolitical tensions and supply dynamics. Geopolitical unrest, coupled with ongoing OPEC+ supply cuts, has propelled oil prices nearly 18% higher since the beginning of the year.

However, this upward momentum is tempered by concerns such as swelling US crude stockpiles, now at their highest since July, and the impact of a hot US inflation print on Federal Reserve rate-cut expectations.

Despite the bullish sentiment prevailing among many of the world’s top traders and Wall Street banks, with some envisioning a return to $100 for the global benchmark, caution lingers.

Macquarie Group has cautioned that Brent could enter a bear market in the second half of the year if geopolitical events fail to materialize into actual supply disruptions.

“The current geopolitical environment continues to provide support to oil prices,” remarked Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy for ING Groep NV in Singapore. However, he added, “further upside is limited without a fresh catalyst or further escalation in the Middle East.”

The rhetoric from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reaffirming a vow to retaliate against Israel, has only heightened tensions in the region.

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Geopolitical Uncertainty Drives Gold Prices Higher Despite Fed Rate Cut Concerns

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As tensions simmer in the Middle East and concerns loom over Federal Reserve policy, gold continues its upward trajectory, defying expectations and reinforcing its status as the ultimate safe-haven asset.

The latest surge in gold prices comes amidst escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

Reports suggest that the United States and its allies are bracing for potential missile or drone strikes by Iran or its proxies on military and government targets in Israel. Such a significant escalation in the six-month-old conflict has sent shockwaves through financial markets, prompting investors to seek refuge in gold.

Despite initial setbacks earlier in the week, gold resumed its blistering rally, buoyed by the specter of geopolitical uncertainty.

On Wednesday, the precious metal witnessed its most significant decline in almost a month following a hotter-than-expected US inflation readout.

This unexpected data led traders to recalibrate their expectations for Federal Reserve interest rate cuts this year, causing the yield on 10-year Treasuries to surge above 4.5%.

However, gold’s resilience in the face of shifting market dynamics remains remarkable. Even as concerns mount over the Fed’s rate-cutting trajectory, the allure of gold as a safe-haven asset persists.

Prices hover just shy of a record high reached earlier in the week, propelled by robust buying from central banks.

Market analysts interviewed by Bloomberg anticipate further gains in gold prices, citing continued geopolitical tensions and strong momentum in the market.

The precious metal’s near-20% rally since mid-February underscores its enduring appeal as a hedge against uncertainty and inflationary pressures.

At 9:54 a.m. in Singapore, spot gold rose 0.3% to $2,341.58 an ounce, signaling continued investor confidence in the metal’s resilience.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, meanwhile, remained relatively unchanged near its highest level since November.

Silver, often considered a bellwether for precious metals, held steady after reaching a three-year high, while platinum and palladium also registered gains.

As the world navigates through a complex web of geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties, gold remains a beacon of stability in an increasingly volatile landscape.

Its ability to weather market fluctuations and maintain its allure as a safe-haven asset reaffirms its timeless appeal to investors seeking refuge amidst uncertainty.

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