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Inflation Hits Low Bar Draghi Set as Stimulus Debate Gets Closer

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  • Inflation Hits Low Bar Draghi Set as Stimulus Debate Gets Closer

Mario Draghi kept expectations low for inflation this summer, and July’s number is proving him right.

Consumer-price growth in the euro area stayed at 1.3 percent — enough to argue that deflation risks have disappeared, but too little to meet the European Central Bank president’s goal of just under 2 percent. While it confirms Draghi’s prediction that inflation would remain near June levels in the coming months, it also reinforces his assessment that, despite better economic growth, there isn’t yet a self-sustained upward trend.

Monday’s report comes as policy makers gear up for an autumn debate on the future path of ECB policy. But unlike confidence at a decade high and accelerating economic growth, it doesn’t offer an obvious argument why asset purchases should be phased out next year, as widely predicted by economists and investors.

“They need to get a clear story for September or October to make the case of the exit and it’s not going to be easy because core inflation and wages will probably roughly be where they are now,” said Nick Kounis, an economist at ABN Amro in Amsterdam. “They have to make the case for tapering and that will be based on growth giving them confidence that inflation is going to come back, and that’s the story they will try to sell.”

So far, Draghi and his Governing Council have steered away from a formal discussion about what will happen to the ECB’s 2.3 trillion-euro ($2.7 trillion) quantitative-easing program after its scheduled end in December. While policy makers’ guidance ties bond-buying to progress on the inflation front, the Italian has suggested that purchases could be pared without tightening the stance.

Pondering Data

Officials will have ample time to ponder economic data and policy options ahead of their Sept. 7 meeting, and probably even thereafter. A decision is more likely to come in October, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Business and consumer confidence in the region unexpectedly improved this month and core inflation accelerated to 1.2 percent. Unemployment fell to 9.1 percent in June, the lowest since early 2009, and a report on Tuesday is forecast to show output increased 0.6 percent in the second quarter.

The ECB is banking on the region’s robust recovery, now in its fifth year, to create price pressures — an endeavor complicated by an appreciating currency. Until now, wages have been almost stagnant, and a Bloomberg measure of domestically generated inflation has slowed, while the euro has gained more than 11 percent against the dollar since the start of the year.

“Weakness in oil prices and strength in the euro make continued weakness in inflation likely,” said Bert Colijn, senior euro-area economist at ING Bank NV in Amsterdam. “While the economic euphoria continues in the euro zone with strong growth and improving labor markets, inflation remains miles away from the ECB target. ”

Discussing Progress

Draghi has the opportunity to discuss his assessment with 19 Nobel Laureates at a conference that starts on Aug. 23 in Lindau, Germany, before he meets his international counterparts at the Federal Reserve’s Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

U.S. officials may arrive with some advice on the dos and don’ts of unwinding stimulus. The central bank sparked an uproar in markets in 2013 with a signal about reducing accommodation. It’s since stopped buying bonds and started to raise interest rates and plans to begin “relatively soon” to build down the institution’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

Draghi has indicated that he’s in no rush to head down the exit path.

“We need to think. We need to have lots of information we don’t have today,” he said after policy makers’ July 19-20 meeting. “But let me give you the bottom line of our exchanges: Basically, inflation is not where we want it to be, and where it should be.”

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

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Energy

Nigeria’s Power Sector to Get $7.5bn from $30bn African Electrification Initiative, Says Minister Adelabu

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Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu has said that Nigeria is set to receive a portion of a $30 billion investment aimed at electrifying Africa.

During a visit to Splendor Electric Nigeria Limited, Adelabu revealed that the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have committed to this ambitious initiative with Nigeria slated to receive approximately $7.5 billion, or 25% of the total fund.

The groundbreaking initiative is designed to extend electrification to an additional 300 million Africans over the next five years.

This large-scale project aims to address the energy deficit that has long plagued the continent and is expected to transform the power infrastructure significantly.

Adelabu expressed optimism about Nigeria’s role in the project, citing the country’s large population and ongoing power sector reforms as key factors in securing a substantial share of the funds.

“I want to inform you of the proposal or the intention, which is at an advanced stage, by the World Bank and the African Development Bank to spend about $30 billion to extend electrification to an additional 300 million Africans within the next five years. Nigeria is going to participate fully in this. I am confident that nothing less than 20% or 25% of this fund would come into Nigeria because of our population,” Adelabu stated.

The minister’s visit to Splendor Electric Nigeria Limited, a porcelain insulator company, underscores the government’s commitment to involving local businesses in the electrification drive.

The investment will focus on enhancing and upgrading power infrastructure, which is crucial for improving electricity access and reliability across Nigeria.

Despite the promising news, Nigeria continues to face significant challenges in its power sector. The country’s power grid has suffered frequent collapses, with the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reporting less than 13 million electricity customers and frequent nationwide blackouts.

The International Energy Agency highlighted that Nigeria’s national grid experienced 46 collapses from 2017 to 2023, exacerbating the nation’s energy crisis.

To combat these issues, the government is also advancing the Presidential Power Initiative, a project in collaboration with Siemens, which aims to build thousands of new lines and numerous transmission and injection substations.

Adelabu noted that the pilot phase of this initiative is nearing completion and that Phase 1 will commence soon.

With over 200 million people and a chronic energy shortfall, Nigeria’s power sector is in urgent need of overhaul.

The additional $7.5 billion from the African Electrification Initiative represents a critical step toward achieving reliable and widespread electricity access.

The investment is expected to stimulate not only infrastructure development but also economic growth, creating opportunities for local companies and improving the quality of life for millions of Nigerians.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Climb as Markets Eye Potential US Rate Cuts in September

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Oil prices rose during the Asian trading session today on speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve may begin cutting interest rates as soon as September.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, increased by 32 cents to $82.95 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil climbed 34 cents to $80.47.

The anticipation of rate cuts stems from recent U.S. inflation and labor market data indicating a trend towards disinflation and balanced employment, according to ANZ Research.

The Federal Reserve is set to review its policy on July 30-31, with expectations of holding rates steady but providing clues for potential cuts in September.

The potential rate cuts could stimulate economic activity, increasing demand for oil. This optimism has been partially offset by recent concerns over China’s slower-than-expected economic growth, which could dampen global oil demand.

President Joe Biden’s announcement to not seek re-election and endorse Vice President Kamala Harris had minimal impact on oil markets.

Analysts suggest that U.S. presidential influence on oil production is limited, although a potential Trump presidency could boost oil demand due to his stance against electric vehicles.

In response to economic challenges, China surprised markets by lowering key policy and lending rates. While these measures aim to bolster the economy, analysts remain cautious about their immediate impact on oil demand.

With OPEC+ production cuts continuing to support prices, the focus remains on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s next moves.

Any decision to cut rates could further influence oil prices in the coming months, highlighting the interconnectedness of global economic policies and energy markets.

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Dangote Refinery Clash Threatens Nigeria’s Oil Sector Stability

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Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is facing a new challenge as a dispute between Dangote Industries Limited and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency (NMDPRA) intensifies.

The disagreement centers on claims by NMDPRA that diesel from the Dangote Refinery contains high sulfur levels, making it inferior to imported products.

The $20 billion Dangote Refinery, located near Lagos, has the potential to process half of Nigeria’s daily oil output, promising to reduce dependency on foreign fuel imports and create thousands of jobs.

However, the recent accusations have cast a shadow over what should be a significant achievement for Africa’s largest economy.

Industry experts warn that the ongoing conflict could deter future investments in Nigeria’s oil sector.

“Regulatory uncertainty is a major disincentive for investors,” said Luqman Agboola, head of energy at Sofidia Capital. “Any factor affecting foreign investment impacts the entire value chain, risking potential energy deals.”

The regulatory body, led by Farouk Ahmed, maintains that Nigeria cannot rely solely on the Dangote facility to meet its petroleum needs, emphasizing the need for diverse sources.

This position has stirred controversy, with critics accusing the agency of attempting to undermine a vital national asset.

Amidst these tensions, energy analyst Charles Ogbeide described the agency’s comments as reckless, noting that the refinery is still in its commissioning stages and is working to optimize its sulfur output.

In response, Dangote Industries has called for fair assessments of its products, asserting that their diesel meets African standards.

The refinery’s leadership argues that certain factions may have ulterior motives, aiming to stifle progress through misinformation.

As the dispute continues, the broader implications for Nigeria’s oil sector remain uncertain. The outcome will likely influence not only domestic production but also the country’s standing in the global energy market.

Observers hope for a resolution that supports both industrial growth and regulatory integrity, ensuring stability in a sector crucial to Nigeria’s economy.

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