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U.K. Retail Sales Surge as Sunshine Overpowers Brexit Concern

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retail sales

U.K. retail sales unexpectedly surged in the month after Britain voted to quit the European Union, as hot weather bolstered sales of clothing and footwear and a drop in the pound encouraged tourists to snap up watches and jewelry.

The volume of goods sold in stores and online jumped 1.4 percent, after dropping 0.9 percent in June, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed on Thursday, exceeding a prediction of 0.1 percent. Sales excluding auto fuel advanced 1.5 percent.

The report suggests the economy started the third quarter on a strong footing, even after the Brexit referendum knocked confidence and prompted the Bank of England to revise down its growth forecasts. The ONS collected the data between July 3 and July 30, making this the first full report since the vote.

“This relative resilience in spending is not too surprising since the fundamentals — such as low interest rates, inflation and a strong jobs market — remain supportive,” said Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics in London. “But we would be wary about reading too much into the jump” because the figures can be volatile and the weather effect may prove temporary, she said.

Warm days and promotions at department stores helped propel sales in so-called non-specialized shops by 3.9 percent, the most since December 2013. Food sales were up 0.6 percent, after sliding 1 percent in June. Textiles, clothing and footwear increased 3.5 percent.

Visitor Splurge

“Better weather this year could be a major factor,” said Joe Grice, the ONS’s chief economic adviser. “There is also anecdotal evidence from respondents suggesting the weaker pound has encouraged overseas visitors to spend.”

The pound has dropped more than 12 percent against the dollar since the Brexit vote, making goods cheaper for overseas buyers. Sales of watches and jewelry climbed 3.1 percent on the month and 16.6 percent from a year earlier, the most since November 2014.

Sterling jumped 0.8 percent after the data, rising to $1.3152 at 9:37 a.m. London time.

Thursday’s data may provide a fillip to the outlook, with consumer spending being a key driver of growth since the financial crisis. Even with confidence slumping in the aftermath of the referendum, the British Retail Consortium said its gauge of retail sales rose the most in five months in July.

Still, some economists say it will take time for the full effects of the decision to leave the EU to be fully felt. The BOE unveiled a package of stimulus earlier this month to cushion any slowdown. The measures included cutting interest rates to a record low 0.25 percent and fresh asset purchases.

Measured by the deflator, prices at stores — including petrol stations — fell an annual 2 percent in July, marking the 25th month in which retailers cut prices.

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.

Commodities

Nigeria’s Petrol Imports Decrease by 1 Billion Litres Following Subsidy Removal

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Ship Aveon Offshore

Nigeria’s monthly petrol imports declined by approximately 1 billion litres following the fuel subsidy removal by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported.

The NBS findings illuminate the tangible effects of this policy shift on the country’s petroleum importation dynamics.

Prior to the subsidy removal, the NBS report delineated a consistent pattern of petrol imports with quantities ranging between 1.91 billion and 2.29 billion litres from March to May 2023.

However, in the aftermath of Tinubu’s decision, the nation witnessed a notable downturn in petrol imports, with figures plummeting to 1.64 billion litres in June, the first post-subsidy month.

This downward trend persisted in subsequent months, with July recording a further reduction to 1.45 billion litres and August witnessing a significant decline to 1.09 billion litres.

August’s import figures represented a decrease of over 1 billion litres compared to the corresponding period in 2022.

The NBS report underscores the pivotal role of the subsidy removal in reshaping Nigeria’s petrol import landscape with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company emerging as the sole importer of fuel in the current scenario.

Despite higher petrol imports in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year, the decline in June, July, and August underscores the profound impact of subsidy removal on import dynamics, affirming the NBS’s latest findings.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Oil Rig Count Soars From 11 to 30, Says NUPRC CEO

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The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has announced a surge in the country’s oil rig count.

Komolafe disclosed that Nigeria’s oil rigs have escalated from 11 to 30, a substantial increase since 2011.

Attributing this surge to concerted efforts by NUPRC and other governmental stakeholders, Komolafe highlighted the importance of instilling confidence, certainty, and predictability in the oil and gas industry.

He explained the pivotal role of the recently implemented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which has spurred significant capital expenditure amounting to billions of dollars over the past two and a half years.

Speaking in Lagos after receiving The Sun Award, Komolafe underscored the effective discharge of NUPRC’s statutory mandate, which has contributed to the success stories witnessed in the sector.

The surge in Nigeria’s oil rig count signifies a tangible measure of vibrant activities within the upstream oil and gas sector, reflecting increased drilling activity and heightened industry dynamism.

Also, Komolafe noted that NUPRC has issued over 17 regulations aimed at enhancing certainty and predictability in industry operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the PIA.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rebound in Asian Markets Amid Red Sea Shipping Concerns

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Crude Oil - Investors King

Amid escalating attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and growing uncertainty regarding U.S. interest rate cuts, oil prices rebounded in Asian markets today.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, climbed by 24 cents to $82.58 a barrel while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI) rose by 21 cents to $77.25.

The rebound comes after both Brent and WTI contracts experienced a 1.5% and 1.4% decline, respectively, from their near three-week highs on Tuesday.

This decline occurred as the premium for prompt U.S. crude futures to the second-month contract widened to $1.71 a barrel, its widest level in approximately four months.

However, on Wednesday, the premiums slid to 4 cents a barrel.

Analysts suggest that oil futures have entered a relatively range-bound phase, with current prices reflecting a risk premium of $6-7 per barrel.

The situation could persist until the next significant development in the Gaza crisis, whether it involves a de-escalation through a ceasefire or a further intensification of the conflict.

Recent attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab strait by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have heightened concerns over freight flows through these critical waterways.

Moreover, Washington’s veto of a draft UN Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war has added to geopolitical tensions impacting oil markets.

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