- China’s Exports Remained Resilient as Global Demand Recovers
China’s overseas shipments held up in April amid recovering global demand and as the threat of a trade war with the U.S. dissipated.
- Exports rose 8 percent in dollar terms from a year earlier, less than the 11.3 percent increase economists projected in Bloomberg survey
- Imports increased 11.9 percent, compared with an estimate for 18 percent growth
- Trade surplus widened to $38.05 billion
China’s export outlook has improved on recovering global demand and as the threat of a trade war with its biggest trading partner fizzled. The International Monetary Fund boosted its estimate of global growth this year, brightening the outlook for external demand. Still, both exports and imports missed economists’ estimates, adding to recent evidence that growth may be pulling back after a strong first quarter.
“The latest numbers are consistent with signs of a slowdown from April business surveys,” Bloomberg Intelligence economists Tom Orlik and Fielding Chen wrote in a report. “If the peak for 2017 growth is already in the past, China’s space for progress on a challenging deleveraging agenda will be limited. Diminished scope for higher interest rates will also add pressure for yuan weakness.”
“Growth in exports shows robust global demand,” said Xia Le, a Hong Kong-based economist at Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA. “China’s financial deleveraging has just started, and will weigh on the domestic economy. Imports will reflect that trend first.”
“The broader context for China’s export stabilization is the recovery of global economy,” said Tommy Xie, an economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore. “China’s own economy is also off a good start in the first quarter and the momentum seems to have carried onto April.”
“The upward trajectory for imports and exports is unlikely to hold,” said Michael Every, head of financial markets research at Rabobank Group in Hong Kong. “On the import side, commodity prices are tumbling and credit is being tightened, for now. On the export side, China can’t realistically think it can find a market for its goods 14 percent bigger than last year.”
- Shipments to the U.S. climbed 11.7 percent, easing from a 19.7 percent gain in March
- Exports to the European Union increased 4 percent, the customs agency said Monday
- Crude Imports slipped from a record to equivalent of 8.4 million barrels per day
- Coal imports climbed to the highest in four months
- Imports of refined copper plunged to the lowest level since October
Oil Prices Recover Slightly Amidst Demand Concerns in U.S. and China
Oil Prices Continue Slide as Market Skepticism Grows Over OPEC+ Cuts
Global oil markets witnessed a continued decline on Wednesday as investors assessed the impact of extended OPEC+ cuts against a backdrop of diminishing demand prospects in China.
Brent crude oil, the international benchmark for Nigerian crude oil, declined by 63 cents to $76.57 a barrel while U.S. WTI crude oil lost 58 cents to $71.74 a barrel.
Last week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, agreed to maintain voluntary output cuts of approximately 2.2 million barrels per day through the first quarter of 2024.
Despite this effort to tighten supply, market sentiment remains unresponsive.
“The decision to further reduce output from January failed to stimulate the market, and the recent, seemingly coordinated, assurances from Saudi Arabia and Russia to extend the constraints beyond 1Q 2024 or even deepen the cuts if needed have also fallen to deaf ears,” noted PVM analyst Tamas Varga.
Adding to the unease, Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut its official selling price (OSP) for flagship Arab Light to Asia in January for the first time in seven months raises concerns about the struggling demand for oil.
Amid the market turmoil, concerns over China’s economic health cast a shadow, potentially limiting fuel demand in the world’s second-largest oil consumer.
Moody’s recent decision to lower China’s A1 rating outlook from stable to negative further contributes to the apprehension.
Analysts will closely watch China’s preliminary trade data, including crude oil import figures, set to be released on Thursday.
The outcome will provide insights into the trajectory of China’s refinery runs, with expectations leaning towards a decline in November.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia has added an extra layer of complexity to the oil market dynamics.
Discussions centered around the cooperation between Russia, the UAE, and OPEC+ in major oil and gas projects, highlighting the intricate geopolitical factors influencing oil prices.
U.S. Crude Production Hits Another Record, Posing Challenges for OPEC
U.S. crude oil production reached a new record in September, surging by 224,000 barrels per day to 13.24 million barrels per day.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a consecutive monthly increase, adding 342,000 barrels per day over the previous three months, marking an annualized growth rate of 11%.
The surge in domestic production has led to a buildup of crude inventories and a softening of prices, challenging OPEC⁺ efforts to stabilize the market.
Despite a decrease in the number of active drilling rigs over the past year, U.S. production continues to rise.
This growth is attributed to enhanced drilling efficiency, with producers focusing on promising sites and drilling longer horizontal well sections to maximize contact with oil-bearing rock.
While OPEC⁺ production cuts have stabilized prices at relatively high levels, U.S. producers are benefiting from this stability.
The current strategy seems to embrace non-OPEC non-shale (NONS) producers, similar to how North Sea producers did in the 1980s.
Saudi Arabia, along with its OPEC⁺ partners, is resuming its role as a swing producer, balancing the market by adjusting its output.
Despite OPEC’s inability to formally collaborate with U.S. shale producers due to antitrust laws, efforts are made to include other NONS producers like Brazil in the coordination system.
This outreach aligns with the historical pattern of embracing rival producers to maintain control over a significant share of global production.
In contrast, U.S. gas production hit a seasonal record high in September, reaching 3,126 billion cubic feet.
However, unlike crude, there are signs that gas production growth is slowing due to very low prices and the absence of a swing producer.
Gas production increased by only 1.8% in September 2023 compared to the same month the previous year.
While the gas market is in the process of rebalancing, excess inventories may persist, keeping prices low.
The impact of a strengthening El Niño in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean could further influence temperatures and reduce nationwide heating demand, impacting gas prices in the coming months.
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