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Euro-Area Inflation Slows as Draghi Urges Prudence in Exit



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  • Euro-Area Inflation Slows as Draghi Urges Prudence in Exit

Euro-area inflation slowed in June even as underlying price pressures picked up, backing the European Central Bank’s call for a prudent approach toward policy normalization.

Consumer prices rose an annual 1.3 percent in June — more than economists predicted — after increasing 1.4 percent the previous month, according to a flash reading by Eurostat on Friday. The core rate, which strips out volatile components such as energy and food, increased to 1.1 percent from 0.9 percent in May, also exceeding estimates.

The pickup in underlying inflation is encouraging for ECB President Mario Draghi and his fellow Governing Council members who want to see proof that price growth can be sustained at their goal of below but close to 2 percent without central-bank support. So far, the strengthening recovery and economic confidence at the highest level in a decade have only had a muted effect — the main reason why policy makers insist that an exit from unconventional measures must be gradual, if not very gradual.

“Although headline inflation came in higher than expected, today’s release confirms that inflationary pressures remain subdued in the euro zone,” said Julien Lafargue, European equities strategist at JP Morgan Private Bank in London. “The ECB is still not in a hurry. Yet the macroeconomic momentum remains supportive and core inflation is gradually recovering. As such the direction of travel for rates, however gradual it may be, is likely higher.”

The euro was little changed after the report and traded at $1.1398 at 11:26 a.m. Frankfurt time.

The pick-up in underlying price pressures was primarily driven by higher services charges in Germany, according to Tuuli Koivu, senior analyst at Nordea in Helsinki. As those have proved volatile in recent months, it’s too soon to gauge whether the increase is the beginning of more pronounced trend, she said.

Spooked Investors

The ECB is mulling phasing out its 2.3 trillion-euro ($2.6 trillion) quantitative-easing program that is currently scheduled to run until at least the end of the year. In a taste of just how delicate communicating the withdrawal of monetary support will be, Draghi sparked a rally in the euro and bond yields this week when he argued that the central bank could scale back purchases without tightening policy. Investors misjudged the comments, which were meant to send a balanced message, according to people familiar with the matter.

Earlier on Friday, French data showed inflation slowed to 0.8 percent June, after reports on Thursday revealed price growth slowed less than anticipated in Spain and unexpectedly picked up in Germany. In Italy, the worst-performing of the euro area’s largest economies, inflation came in weaker than forecast this month.

The 19-nation region recorded its fastest expansion in six years in the second quarter, according to IHS Markit’s gauge of activity in the manufacturing and services sectors. Even though momentum slowed this month, growth likely accelerated to 0.7 percent in the April-June period.

For Draghi, a strong economic performance may mean that investors will keep looking closely for any signal on tapering, adding to the complexity of managing a very gradual return toward more normal monetary policy after for years of bond-buying and negative rates.

“I believe, as all my colleagues in the Governing Council, that in principle an expansive monetary policy is currently appropriate,” ECB Governing Council member Jens Weidmann said on Thursday. “However, there can be different opinions about the right degree of monetary-policy accommodation.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq,, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Nigerian Oil Theft Escalates to 400,000 Barrels a Day, Exposing Systemic Corruption



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A recent report has revealed that Nigeria’s daily oil losses surged to 400,000 barrels as efforts to curb crude oil theft remain ineffective.

This escalation from 100,000 barrels per day in 2013 underscores the severe and worsening challenge facing the nation’s oil sector.

The report, produced by the public policy firm Nextier, is the result of several months of in-depth investigation.

It reveals a complex web of sophisticated networks involving powerful actors, foreign buyers, security personnel, transporters, and government officials.

This elaborate system facilitates the large-scale theft of crude oil, which has been a significant drain on Nigeria’s economy.

From 2009 to 2021, Nigeria lost 643 million barrels of crude oil, valued at $48 billion, due to theft. This loss represents more than half of the nation’s national debt as of 2021.

The situation has also severely impacted Nigeria’s ability to meet its OPEC quotas, which have dwindled from 2.5 million barrels per day in 2010 to just 1.38 million barrels per day.

The report, authored by Ben Nwosu, an associate consultant at Nextier, and Ndu Nwokolo, a managing partner at Nextier, paints a grim picture of the local dynamics fueling this crisis.

It highlights the involvement of multiple small-scale artisanal actors, who are often supported by local political and security forces. These local actors contribute to the creation of underground economies, further complicating efforts to curb theft.

Environmental hazards are another grave concern. Illegal refining processes, characterized by uncontrolled heat and poorly designed condensation units, have led to numerous explosions. Between 2021 and 2023 alone, these operations resulted in 285 deaths.

Despite these dangers, illegal refineries continue to thrive due to economic necessity and systemic corruption.

Nigeria’s four refineries, which have a combined capacity of 445,000 barrels per day, are currently operating at only 6,000 barrels per day due to mismanagement and corruption.

This shortfall forces the country to rely heavily on imported refined products, further exacerbating the situation.

Massive corruption in oil importation and subsidies has led to billions of naira being unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.

Moreover, the government’s inability to support modular refineries has perpetuated reliance on illegal operations.

Security forces are often implicated in the theft, providing protection for a fee. Although recent measures, such as the destruction of illegal refineries, have offered temporary relief, these efforts have been short-lived.

New illegal operations quickly emerge, perpetuating the cycle of theft and corruption.

The authors of the report emphasize that addressing this complex issue requires more than punitive measures. They call for a comprehensive approach that tackles the root causes, including the need for effective governance and economic opportunities for affected communities.

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Crude Oil

Brent Crude Falls Amid Anticipation of China’s Industrial Output Report



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Brent crude prices fell on Monday, reversing some of last week’s gains as traders anxiously awaited the release of key economic data from China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil.

After climbing 3.8% last week — the first weekly rise in four — Brent crude edged down toward $82 a barrel. Similarly, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was trading near $78 a barrel.

The market’s attention is now focused on China’s scheduled release of industrial output and crude refining figures for May, which are expected to provide crucial insights into the economic health and energy demand of the country.

China’s oil refining — known as crude throughput — is anticipated to be flat or even decline this year for the first time in two decades, excluding the downturn experienced in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This projection is based on a survey conducted by Bloomberg among market analysts.

In 2023, China processed a record volume of crude oil as demand rebounded, but signs of robust supply and persistent concerns over Chinese demand have kept oil prices trending lower since early April.

The situation was further complicated by OPEC+’s recent decision to increase output this year, which initially unsettled the market. Key members of the cartel have since clarified that production adjustments could be paused or reversed if necessary.

“Crude has room for growth,” said Gui Chenxi, an analyst at CITIC Futures Co. “The third quarter is typically the peak season globally and should drive oil processing and demand higher.”

Market participants are keenly watching the forthcoming data, as any indications of weakening demand could weigh heavily on prices.

Conversely, stronger-than-expected industrial activity could support prices and offset some of the recent bearish sentiment.

The ongoing uncertainty has led to cautious trading, with investors reluctant to make significant moves until more concrete information is available.

This cautious approach underscores the delicate balance the oil market is trying to maintain amid fluctuating global economic signals.

As the world’s top crude importer, China’s economic performance is a key barometer for global oil demand. The data expected from China will not only influence immediate trading strategies but also provide longer-term market direction.

In the meantime, the oil market remains on tenterhooks, reflecting the broader uncertainties in the global economy.

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Crude Oil

Fed’s Decision to Hold Rates Stalls Oil Market, Brent Crude Slips to $82.17



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Oil prices faced a setback on Thursday as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to maintain interest rates dampened investor sentiment.

The Federal Reserve’s announcement on Wednesday indicated a reluctance to initiate an interest rate cut, pushing expectations for policy easing possibly as late as December. This unexpected stance rattled markets already grappling with inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty.

Brent crude, the international benchmark for Nigerian crude oil, saw a drop of 43 cents, or 0.5% to $82.17 a barrel, reflecting cautious investor response to the Fed’s cautious approach.

Similarly, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil also slipped by 46 cents, or 0.6% to settle at $78.04 per barrel.

Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM Oil, commented on the Fed’s decision, stating, “In the Fed’s view, this is the price that needs to be paid to achieve a soft landing and avoid recession beyond doubt.”

The central bank’s move to hold rates steady is seen as a measure to balance economic growth and inflation containment.

The Energy Information Administration’s latest data release further exacerbated market concerns, revealing a significant increase in U.S. crude stockpiles, primarily driven by higher imports.

Fuel inventories also exceeded expectations, compounding worries about oversupply in the oil market.

Adding to the downward pressure on oil prices, the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a bearish report highlighting concerns over potential excess supply in the near future.

The combination of these factors weighed heavily on investor sentiment, contributing to the decline in oil prices observed throughout the trading session.

Meanwhile, geopolitical tensions in the Middle East continued to influence market dynamics, with reports of Iran-allied Houthi militants claiming responsibility for recent attacks on international shipping near Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeidah.

These incidents underscored ongoing concerns about potential disruptions to oil supply routes in the region.

As markets digest the Fed’s cautious stance and monitor developments in global economic indicators and geopolitical tensions, oil prices are expected to remain volatile in the near term.

Analysts suggest that future price movements will hinge significantly on economic data releases, policy decisions by major central banks, and developments in geopolitical hotspots affecting oil supply routes.


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