- US Unemployment Claims Improves by 5,000
The US labor market continued to add jobs as initial jobless claims improved again last week.
The unemployment claims dropped 5,000 last week to 249,000. Making it the lowest level since mid-April, and 43-year low on four-week average.
This signaled that the labor market remained strong ahead of Friday’s non-farm payrolls report and that employees are enjoying job security despite slow economic growth.
“There’s no question about it, these are good numbers,” David Sloan, senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York. “The implication here is that the payrolls trend will remain healthy. The big picture is consistent with the Fed raising rates at some point this year, most likely in December.”
Overall, 2.06 million unemployed Americans are collecting unemployment checks, down 7 percent from a year ago. While the less volatile four-week average fell 2,500 to 253,500, lowest since December 1973.
Unemployment claims have been below 300,000 for 83 consecutive weeks — the longest streak since 1970 and a level economists consider typical for a healthy labor market.
Oil Prices Drop on Stronger U.S Dollar
The strong U.S Dollar pressured global crude oil prices on Thursday despite the big drop in U.S crude oil inventories.
The Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dropped by 74 cents or 1 percent to settle at $73.65 a barrel at 4.03 am Nigerian time on Thursday.
The U.S West Texas Intermediate crude oil depreciated by 69 cents or 1 percent to $71.46 a barrel after reaching its highest since October 2018 on Wednesday.
“Energy markets became so fixated over a robust summer travel season and Iran nuclear deal talks that they somewhat got blindsided by the Fed’s hawkish surprise,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
“The Fed was expected to be on hold and punt this meeting, but they sent a clear message they are ready to start talking about tapering and that means the dollar is ripe for a rebound which should be a headwind for all commodities.”
The U.S. dollar boasted its strongest single day gain in 15 months after the Federal Reserve signaled it might raise interest rates at a much faster pace than assumed.
A firmer greenback makes oil priced in dollars more expensive in other currencies, potentially weighing on demand.
Still, oil price losses were limited as data from the Energy Information Administration showed that U.S. crude oil stockpiles dropped sharply last week as refineries boosted operations to their highest since January 2020, signaling continued improvement in demand.
Also boosting prices, refinery throughput in China, the world’s second largest oil consumer, rose 4.4% in May from the same month a year ago to a record high.
“This pullback in oil prices should be temporary as the fundamentals on both the supply and demand side should easily be able to compensate for a rebounding dollar,” Moya said.
Oil Rises as Threat of Immediate Iran Supply Recedes
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.
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.
Oil Prices Rise as Demand Improves, Supplies Tighten
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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