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Asia Stocks Fall After Yellen Speech

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Asian market

Asian stocks outside Japan fell after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the case for raising interest rates is getting stronger. Shares in Tokyo rallied as the yen weakened and the Bank of Japan’s governor vowed to add stimulus if needed.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index dropped 0.8 percent as of 9:12 a.m. in Tokyo, after its first back-to-back weekly decline since June. Yellen said in Jackson Hole on Friday that the case for tightening policy had strengthened. While she stopped short of revealing the specific timing of a rate move, Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said a rate increase in September is possible.

Odds of a Federal Reserve rate in September jumped to 42 percent from 22 percent a week ago, with a 65 percent chance in December as central bankers reaffirmed their stance of monetary policy to stop economies from slipping into deflation.

“There will be some mild pressure on markets,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist in Sydney at CMC Markets, said by phone. “The Fed remains very much data dependent, and that gives you the next hurdle for global markets which is the U.S. non-farm payrolls on Friday. That now becomes crucial to the near-term direction of markets.”

The Topix index jumped 2.2 percent, the most since July. The yen suffered its biggest single-day drop in more than six weeks on Friday after BOJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda reiterated a pledge to ease monetary policy further if necessary, saying in comments at Jackson Hole that he would bolster economic stimulus “without hesitation.”

South Korea’s Kospi Index lost 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index retreated 0.1 percent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index was little changed. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to start trading.

Futures on the China A50 Index slid 0.3 percent while the Hang Seng Index gained 0.6 percent in their most recent trading. Chinese regulators are cracking down on speculative trading, with exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen opening up investigations into wild stock price swings and halting investor accounts, according to the two bourses’ official micro-blogs.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index slid less than 0.1 percent. The U.S. equity benchmark index posted its biggest weekly drop since June last week, erasing all its August gains. The market is locked in its tightest trading range since the end of 1965 amid confusion about Fed policy and the outlook for earnings.

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

Crude Oil Dips Slightly on Friday Amid Demand Concerns

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Crude oil gains

On Friday, global crude oil prices experienced a slight dip, primarily attributed to mounting concerns surrounding demand despite signs of a tightening market.

Brent crude prices edged lower, nearing $83 per barrel, following a recent uptick of 1.6% over two consecutive sessions.

Similarly, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hovered around $78 per barrel. Despite the dip, market indicators suggest a relatively robust market, with US crude inventories expanding less than anticipated in the previous week.

The oil market finds itself amidst a complex dynamic, balancing optimistic signals such as reduced OPEC+ output and heightened tensions in the Middle East against persistent worries about Chinese demand, particularly as the nation grapples with economic challenges.

This delicate equilibrium has led oil futures to mirror the oscillations of broader stock markets, underscoring the interconnectedness of global economic factors.

Analysts, including Michael Tran from RBC Capital Markets LLC, highlight the recurring theme of robust oil demand juxtaposed with concerning Chinese macroeconomic data, contributing to market volatility.

Also, recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants have added a risk premium to oil futures, reflecting geopolitical uncertainties beyond immediate demand-supply dynamics.

While US crude inventories saw a slight rise, they remain below seasonal averages, indicating some resilience in the market despite prevailing uncertainties.

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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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Nigeria oil rig

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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