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Housing Starts in U.S. Fell in March to a Four-Month Low

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  • Housing Starts in U.S. Fell in March to a Four-Month Low

New-home construction in the U.S. cooled in March to a four-month low as starts of single-family properties settled back from the strongest pace in almost a decade, Commerce Department data showed Tuesday.

Key Points

  • Residential starts decreased 6.8 percent to a 1.22 million annualized rate from a 1.30 in February
  • Forecast was for 1.25 million rate; February’s figure was revised from 1.29 million
  • Permits, a proxy for future construction, climbed 3.6 percent to a 1.26 million annualized rate in March

Big Picture

The construction data are volatile from month to month, made worse in this report by changing weather as the unusually warm February that boosted totals during that month gave way to a more seasonal March. Fundamentally, there’s evidence of a strong outlook for the housing industry as homebuilder sentiment holds near the strongest level in more than a decade, and mortgage rates have eased from their post-election high. Builders are still contending with labor and lot shortages as they struggle to keep up with solid demand stemming from a strengthening labor market.

Economist Takeaway

“Builders are more upbeat than they have been since the height of the housing boom, with buyer traffic and sales both running at the best pace in years,” Sam Bullard, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC, said in a note before the report. “The backdrop for the near-term housing outlook is also encouraging as solid job growth and elevated levels of consumer confidence have put would-be homebuyers in a positive frame of mind.”

Other Details

  • Report shows a wide margin for error, with a 90 percent chance that last month’s figure fell between a 19.3 percent decline and a 5.7 percent gain
  • Construction of single-family houses declined 6.2 percent to an 821,000 rate from 875,000 in February that was the strongest since October 2007
  • Groundbreaking on multifamily homes, such as townhouses and apartment buildings, decreased 7.9 percent to an annual rate of 394,000 in March, a four-month low
  • Starts dropped in three of four regions, led by a 16.2 percent slump in the Midwest to a six-month low and a 16 percent decline in the West
  • Completions of single-family dwellings increased to an 819,000 annual rate, the most since September 2008

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Markets

Communities in Delta State Shut OML30 Operates by Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd

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Oil

The OML30 operated by Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited in Delta State has been shut down by the host communities for failing to meet its obligations to the 112 host communities.

The host communities, led by its Management Committee/President Generals, had accused the company of gross indifference and failure in its obligations to the host communities despite several meetings and calls to ensure a peaceful resolution.

The station with a production capacity of 80,000 barrels per day and eight flow stations operates within the Ughelli area of Delta State.

The host communities specifically accused HEOSL of failure to pay the GMOU fund for the last two years despite mediation by the Delta State Government on May 18, 2020.

Also, the host communities accused HEOSL of ‘total stoppage of scholarship award and payment to host communities since 2016’.

The Chairman, Dr Harrison Oboghor and Secretary, Mr Ibuje Joseph that led the OML30 host communities explained to journalists on Monday that the host communities had resolved not to backpedal until all their demands were met.

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Markets

Crude Oil Recovers from 4 Percent Decline as Joe Biden Wins

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Oil Prices Recover from 4 Percent Decline as Joe Biden Wins

Crude oil prices rose with other financial markets on Monday following a 4 percent decline on Friday.

This was after Joe Biden, the former Vice-President and now the President-elect won the race to the White House.

Global benchmark oil, Brent crude oil, gained $1.06 or 2.7 percent to $40.51 per barrel on Monday while the U.S West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained $1.07 or 2.9 percent to $38.21 per barrel.

On Friday, Brent crude oil declined by 4 percent as global uncertainty surged amid unclear US election and a series of negative comments from President Trump. However, on Saturday when it became clear that Joe Biden has won, global financial markets rebounded in anticipation of additional stimulus given Biden’s position on economic growth and recovery.

Trading this morning has a risk-on flavor, reflecting increasing confidence that Joe Biden will occupy the White House, but the Republican Party will retain control of the Senate,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.

“The outcome is ideal from a market point of view. Neither party controls the Congress, so both trade wars and higher taxes are largely off the agenda.”

The president-elect and his team are now working on mitigating the risk of COVID-19, grow the world’s largest economy by protecting small businesses and the middle class that is the backbone of the American economy.

There will be some repercussions further down the road,” said OCBC’s economist Howie Lee, raising the possibility of lockdowns in the United States under Biden.

“Either you’re crimping energy demand or consumption behavior.”

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Nigeria, Other OPEC Members Oil Revenue to Hit 18 Year Low in 2020

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Revenue of OPEC Members to Drop to 18 Year Low in 2020

The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) has predicted that the oil revenue of members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will decline to 18-year low in 2020.

EIA said their combined oil export revenue will plunge to its lowest level since 2002. It proceeded to put a value to the projection by saying members of the oil cartel would earn around $323 billion in net oil export in 2020.

If realised, this forecast revenue would be the lowest in 18 years. Lower crude oil prices and lower export volumes drive this expected decrease in export revenues,” it said.

The oil expert based its projection on weak global oil demand and low oil prices because of COVID-19.

It said this coupled with production cuts by OPEC members in recent months will impact net revenue of the cartel in 2020.

It said, “OPEC earned an estimated $595bn in net oil export revenues in 2019, less than half of the estimated record high of $1.2tn, which was earned in 2012.

“Continued declines in revenue in 2020 could be detrimental to member countries’ fiscal budgets, which rely heavily on revenues from oil sales to import goods, fund social programmes, and support public services.”

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