- Retail Sales in U.S. Jump More Than Forecast in Broad Advance
Sales at U.S. retailers rose more than forecast last month in a broad advance after an even stronger September than initially estimated, showing consumers continue to pump up the economy.
A 0.8 percent rise in October followed an upwardly revised 1 percent jump in the prior month, marking the biggest back-to-back increase since March-April 2014, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The median forecast called for a 0.6 percent gain. Over the last 12 months, retail sales were up the most in almost two years.
Healthy hiring, wage growth and limited inflation are giving Americans the wherewithal to spend at stores, malls and online merchants. Momentum at the start of the quarter bodes well for household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, during the approaching holiday-shopping season.
“The consumer is in good shape,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc in New York. “The pace of household spending is fairly solid. We expect a slight acceleration this quarter from the third-quarter rate.”
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey for total retail sales ranged from gains of 0.3 percent to 1.2 percent after a previously reported 0.6 percent rise a month earlier. Retail receipts increased 4.3 percent from October 2015, the biggest advance since November 2014.
“A strong October following a strong September is encouraging,” Tom Simons, a senior economist at Jefferies LLC, said before the report. “The labor market continues to be strong, and wage growth appears to be accelerating.”
Sales improved in 11 of 13 major categories for a second straight month in October, the report showed. That included the biggest advance in five months at Internet retailers and the strongest month for apparel chains since February.
Furniture outlets and restaurants were the only major categories registering a decline in October sales.
Auto purchases remained robust, climbing 1.1 percent after a 1.9 percent increase.
That’s consistent with industry data that showed the torrid demand is continuing. Purchases of cars and light trucks grew at a 17.9 million annualized rate, the strongest pace since November of last year, after 17.7 million the previous month, according to Ward’s Automotive Group.
Retail sales excluding automobiles and service stations increased 0.6 percent after a 0.5 percent gain a month earlier, the Commerce Department data showed.
The figures used to calculate gross domestic product, which exclude categories such as food services, auto dealers, home-improvement stores and service stations, climbed 0.8 percent. The increase in the so-called retail control group was the largest since April and followed a 0.3 percent September gain that was stronger than first reported.
Clothing merchant sales increased 0.6 percent last month, while non-store retailers jumped 1.5 percent.
Receipts at gasoline stations rose 2.2 percent. The Commerce Department’s retail sales data aren’t adjusted for prices, so rising fuel costs boost filling-station receipts.
A separate report Tuesday from the Labor Department showed prices of imports to the U.S. rose by the most in four months, led by higher fuel costs. The import-price index increased 0.5 percent in October.
The cost of imported fuel was 3.8 percent higher than a year earlier, marking the first advance since July 2014.
South Africa’s iGas, PetroSA and Strategic Fuel Fund Merge to Create South African National Petroleum Company
The South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has announced the merger of Central Energy Fund (CEF) subsidiaries iGas, PetroSA and the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF).
The merger will be effective from 1 April 2021 and the new company will be called the South African National Petroleum Company.
The merger, driven by the pursuit of implementing a new company that has a streamlined operating model via the development of a shared services system and a common information platform, comes a few months after cabinet approval and the confirmation that PetroSA had incurred losses of R20 billion since 2014.
Additional factors which prompted the move included the determination to strengthen PetroSA which had not had a permanent CEO in five years prior to the appointment of CEO Ishmael Poolo last and, had become majorly ungainful since its failure to secure gas for the gas-to-liquids refinery project in Mossel Bay.
While the merger deadline has been set, the portfolio committee expressed reservations to the department’s likelihood of meeting the deadline, considering the existing legislative regime, pending issues raised in the SFF and PetroSA forensic reports, as well as PetroSA’s current insolvency and liquidity challenges, the official press statement on the briefing revealed.
“South Africa’s energy sector is entering a new dawn,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “With gas discoveries off the coast and the announcement of the REIPPP programme bid window 5 and 6 on the horizon, now is the most opportune time for the merger of the CEF subsidiaries. Of course, it is not an easy task and delays may be anticipated but, this move signals a real change towards a meaningful strategy that will not only be beneficial to the DMRE but to potential investors and local development as well.”
The African Energy Chamber welcomes this move and acknowledges that this is yet another step supporting the country’s determination to restarting the engines of sustainable growth and the transformation of energy policy and infrastructure.
Crude Oil Hits $71.34 After Saudi Largest Oil Facilities Were Attacked
Brent Crude Oil Rises to $71.34 Following Missile Attack on Saudi Largest Oil Facilities
Brent crude, against which Nigerian oil is priced, jumped to $71.34 a barrel on Monday during the Asian trading session following a report that Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facilities were attacked by missiles and drones fired on Sunday by Houthi military in Yemen.
On Monday, the Saudi energy ministry said one of the world’s largest offshore oil loading facilities at Ras Tanura was attacked and a ballistic missile targeted Saudi Aramco facilities.
“One of the petroleum tank areas at the Ras Tanura Port in the Eastern Region, one of the largest oil ports in the world, was attacked this morning by a drone, coming from the sea,” the ministry said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.
It also stated that shrapnel from a ballistic missile dropped near Aramco’s residential compound in Eastern Dhahran.
“Such acts of sabotage do not only target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also the security and stability of energy supplies to the world, and therefore, the global economy,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement on state media.
Oil price surged because the market interpreted the occurrence as supply sabotage given Saudi is the largest OPEC producer. A decline in supply is positive for the oil industry.
However, Brent crude oil pulled back to $69.49 per barrel at 12:34 pm Nigerian time because of the $1.9 trillion stimulus packed passed in the U.S.
Market experts are projecting that the stimulus will boost the United States economy and support U.S crude oil producers in the near-term, this they expect to boost crude oil production from share and disrupt OPEC strategy.
A Loud Blast Heard in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia’s Largest Crude Oil Production Site
Loud Blast Heard in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia’s Largest Crude Oil Production Site
Two residents from the eastern city of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday said they heard a loud blast, but they are yet to know the cause, according to a Reuters report.
Saudi’s Eastern province is home to the kingdom’s largest crude oil production and export facilities of Saudi Aramco.
A blast in any of the facilities in that region could hurt global oil supplies and bolster oil prices above $70 per barrel in the first half of the year.
One of the residents said the explosion took place around 8:30 pm Saudi time while the other resident claimed the time was around 8:00 pm.
However, Saudi authorities are yet to confirm or respond to the story.
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