- Greek Central Bank Chief Warns Bailout Delay Risks Rerun of 2015
Greece must immediately reach an agreement with creditors on the release of bailout funds or risk another recession and even more austerity measures, the country’s central bank chief said.
“Any further delay in completion beyond this month will feed a new circle of uncertainty,” Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras told lawmakers in Athens on Monday, saying this could make reaching a deal harder. “Such a vicious cycle could return the economy to recession and a rerun of the negative developments that took place in the first half of 2015.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is heading toward a reprise of the antagonistic relationship with Greece’s creditors that previously almost knocked the nation out of the euro. Over the weekend, he lashed out again at the International Monetary Fund, one of the institutions monitoring Greece’s rescue, after auditors insisted on legislation that would trigger further budget cuts if fiscal targets are missed.
Greece “significantly” beat its 2016 fiscal target, the European Commission said Monday, achieving a budget surplus before interest of 2.3 percent of gross domestic product, compared with a goal of 0.5 percent. The surplus will widen to 3.7 percent in 2018, in line with targets, provided the government implements the terms of its 86 billion-euro ($91 billion) bailout program, the Commission said.
That’s at odds with the IMF’s view that the surplus won’t get above 1.5 percent without more cuts.
The EU projections underpin the government’s frustration with the IMF’s stance. European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici will visit Athens on Wednesday for talks with Tsipras and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos to find a way to break the impasse, he told reporters in Brussels Monday.
Germany and the Netherlands have threatened to end the Greek program if a deal isn’t reached that included the IMF. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble’s vocal insistence gave the IMF leverage when lobbying for its demands, according to a European official involved in the discussions.
“Tsipras’ room for action is very limited,” said Patrick Esteruelas, head of research at Emso Asset Management. “He can either comply with the creditors’ latest requests and attempt to spin them positively, or call new elections in the knowledge that he will lose them and he will be out of government. He has no other options.”
The yield on Greece’s two-year notes rose 33 basis points to 9.2 percent at 4:02 p.m. on Monday after reaching a five-month high on Thursday. The benchmark Athens Stock Exchange rose 0.7 percent.
The German government’s goal is to complete the Greek bailout program with the IMF on board, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin on Monday.
EU officials set an informal Feb. 20 deadline for Greece to complete the review, before the start of a busy national election season that will make additional negotiations with Tsipras’s government politically difficult. Failure means Greece may not be able to repay about 6 billion euros of bonds it has coming due in July.
Oil Posts 2% Gain for the Week Despite India Virus Surge
Oil prices steadied on Friday and were set for a weekly gain against the backdrop of optimism over a global economic recovery, though the COVID-19 crisis in India capped prices.
Brent crude futures settled 0.28% higher at $68.28 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude advanced 0.29% to $64.90 per barrel.
Both Brent and WTI are on track for second consecutive weekly gains as easing restrictions on movement in the United States and Europe, recovering factory operations and coronavirus vaccinations pave the way for a revival in fuel demand.
In China, data showed export growth accelerated unexpectedly in April while a private survey pointed to strong expansion in service sector activity.
However, crude imports by the world’s biggest buyer fell 0.2% in April from a year earlier to 40.36 million tonnes, or 9.82 million barrels per day (bpd), the lowest since December.
In the United States, the world’s largest oil consumer, jobless claims have dropped, signalling the labour market recovery has entered a new phase as the economy recovers.
The recovery in oil demand, however, has been uneven as surging COVID-19 cases in India reduce fuel consumption in the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer.
“Brent came within a whisker of breaking past $70 a barrel this week but failed at the final hurdle as demand uncertainty dragged on prices,” said Stephen Brennock at oil brokerage PVM.
The resurgence of COVID-19 in countries such as India, Japan and Thailand is hindering gasoline demand recovery, energy consultancy FGE said in a client note, though some of the lost demand has been offset by countries such as China, where recent Labour Day holiday travel surpassed 2019 levels.
“Gasoline demand in the U.S. and parts of Europe is faring relatively well,” FGE said.
“Further out, we could see demand pick up as lockdowns are eased and pent-up demand is released during the summer driving season.”
Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange to Commence Gold Trading
With the admission of Dukia Gold’s diversified financial instruments backed by gold as the underlying asset, Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange is set to commence gold trading.
According to Dukia Gold, the instruments will be in form of exchange-traded notes, commercial papers and other gold-backed securities, adding that it will enable the company to deepen the commodities market in Nigeria, increase capacity, generate foreign exchange for the Nigerian government to better diversify foreign reserves and create jobs across the metal production value chain.
Tunde Fagbemi, the Chairman, Dukia Gold, disclosed this while addressing journalists at Pre-Listing Media Interactive Session in Lagos on Thursday.
He said, “We are proud to be the first gold company whose products would be listed on the Lagos Futures and Commodities Exchange. The listing shall enable us facilitate our infrastructure development, expand capacity and create fungible products.
“This has potential to shore up Nigeria’s foreign reserve and create an alternative window for preservation of pension funds. A gold-backed security is a hedge against inflation and convenient preservation of capital.”
“As a global player, we comply with the practices and procedures of London Bullion Market Association and many other international bodies. Our refinery will also have multiplier effects on the development of rural areas anywhere it is located,” he added.
Mr Olusegun Akanji, the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, Heritage Bank, said the lender had created a buying centre for verification of quality and quantity of gold and reference price to ensure price discovery in line with the global standard.
Oil Nears $70 as Easing Western Lockdowns Boost Summer Demand Outlook
Oil prices rose for a third day on Wednesday as easing of lockdowns in the United States and parts of Europe heralded a boost in fuel demand in summer season and offset concerns about the rise of COVID-19 infections in India and Japan.
Brent crude rose 93 cents, or 1.4%, to $69.81 a barrel at 1008 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 85 cents, or 1.3%, to $66.54 a barrel.
Both contracts hit the highest level since mid-March in intra-day trade.
“A return to $70 oil is edging closer to becoming reality,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
“The jump in oil prices came amid expectations of strong demand as western economies reopen. Indeed, anticipation of a pick-up in fuel and energy usage in the United States and Europe over the summer months is running high,” he said.
Crude prices were also supported by a large fall in U.S. inventories.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) industry group reported crude stockpiles fell by 7.7 million barrels in the week ended April 30, according to two market sources. That was more than triple the drawdown expected by analysts polled by Reuters. Gasoline stockpiles fell by 5.3 million barrels.
Traders are awaiting data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday to see if official data shows such a large fall.
“If confirmed by the EIA, that would mark the largest weekly fall in the official data since late January,” Commonwealth Bank analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.
The rise in oil prices to nearly two-month highs has been supported by COVID-19 vaccine rollouts in the United States and Europe.
Euro zone business activity accelerated last month as the bloc’s dominant services industry shrugged off renewed lockdowns and returned to growth.
“The partial lifting of mobility restrictions, the expectation that tourism will return in the near future, and the lure of the psychologically important $70 mark are all likely to have contributed to the price rise,” Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said.
This has offset a drop in fuel demand in India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, which is battling a surge in COVID-19 infections.
“However, if we were to eventually see a national lockdown imposed, this would likely hit sentiment,” ING Economics analysts said of the situation in India.
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