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U.S. Producer Prices Post First Drop in One-and-a-half Years

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  • U.S. Producer Prices Post First Drop in One-and-a-half Years

U.S. producer prices unexpectedly fell in August, recording their first drop in 1-1/2 years, as declines in the prices of food and a range of trade services offset an increase in the cost of energy products.

Despite the surprise weakness in producer prices reported by the Labor Department on Wednesday, overall inflation is steadily rising, driven by a tightening labor market and robust economy. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates later this month for the third time this year.

The producer price index for final demand slipped 0.1 percent last month after being unchanged in July. August’s fall in the PPI was the first since February 2017. In the 12 months through August, the PPI rose 2.8 percent, slowing further after July’s 3.3 percent increase.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the PPI increasing 0.2 percent in August and advancing 3.2 percent year-on-year.

A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services edged up 0.1 percent last month. The so-called core PPI gained 0.3 percent in July.

In the 12 months through August, the core PPI increased 2.9 percent after rising 2.8 percent in July.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data. The link between producer and consumer prices has weakened after the government revamped the PPI basket and changed methodology several years ago.

The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, increased 2.0 percent in July, hitting the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent target for the third time this year.

Economist expect the Trump administration’s import tariffs on lumber, washing machines, solar panels, steel and aluminum, as well as a range of Chinese goods, to put upward pressure on inflation in the coming months.

Wholesale food prices fell 0.6 percent last month, pulled down by sharp declines in the costs of eggs and fresh fruits and melons. Food prices, which dipped 0.1 percent in July, have now decreased for three straight months.

Wholesale energy prices rose 0.4 percent, with gasoline prices increasing 0.6 percent after slipping 0.1 percent in the prior month. Energy prices fell 0.5 percent in July.

Overall, the cost of wholesale goods was unchanged in August after edging up 0.1 percent in July. Prices for iron and steel scrap fell 5.6 percent in August, the biggest drop since October 2017. Nonferrous scrap prices decreased 8.7 percent, the largest decline since January 2009.

The cost of services slipped 0.1 percent last month, led by a 0.9 percent decline in the index for trade services, which measures changes in margins received by wholesalers and retailers. Services dipped 0.1 percent in July.

Over 80 percent of the drop in the cost of services last month was attributed to margins for machines and equipment wholesaling, which fell 1.7 percent

The cost of healthcare services rose 0.3 percent as a 0.5 percent drop in prices for hospital outpatient care was offset by a 0.6 percent jump in the cost of doctor visits, which was the largest gain since June 2010. There were also increases in prices of hospital inpatient and dental care.

Healthcare prices ticked up 0.1 percent in July.

Those healthcare costs feed into the core PCE price index.

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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Crude Oil

Nigeria Pumps 236.2 Million Barrels in First Half of 2024

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markets energies crude oil

Nigeria pumped 236.2 million barrels of crude oil in the first half of 2024, according to the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).

This figure represents an increase from the 219.5 million barrels produced during the same period in 2023.

In January, Nigeria produced 44.2 million barrels of crude oil while February saw a slight dip to 38.3 million barrels, with March following closely at 38.1 million barrels.

April and May production stood at 38.4 million barrels and 38.8 million barrels, respectively. June’s output remained consistent at 38.3 million barrels, demonstrating a stable production trend.

Despite the overall increase compared to 2023, the 2024 production figures still fall short of the 302.42 million barrels produced in the same period in 2020.

This ongoing fluctuation underscores the challenges facing Nigeria’s oil sector, which has experienced varying production levels over recent years.

On a daily basis, Nigeria’s crude oil production showed some variability. In January, the average daily production peaked at 1.43 million barrels per day (mbpd), the highest within the six-month period.

February’s production dropped to 1.32 mbpd, with a further decrease to 1.23 mbpd in March. April saw a modest increase to 1.28 mbpd, which then fell again to 1.25 mbpd in May. June ended on a positive note with a slight rise to 1.28 mbpd.

The fluctuations in daily production rates have prompted government and industry leaders to address underlying issues.

Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), has highlighted the detrimental effects of oil theft and vandalism on Nigeria’s production capabilities.

Kyari emphasized that addressing these security challenges is critical to boosting production and attracting investment.

Kyari also noted recent efforts to combat illegal activities, including the removal of over 5,800 illegal connections from pipelines and dismantling more than 6,000 illegal refineries.

He expressed confidence that these measures, combined with ongoing policy reforms, would support Nigeria’s goal of increasing daily production to two million barrels.

The Nigerian government remains focused on stabilizing and enhancing oil production. With recent efforts showing promising results, there is cautious optimism that Nigeria will achieve its production targets.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Steady Amid Mixed Signals on Crude Demand

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Crude oil

Oil prices remained stable on Thursday as investors navigated conflicting signals regarding crude demand.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, settled at $85.11 a barrel, edging up by 3 cents, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dipped by 3 cents to $82.82 a barrel.

The stability comes as the U.S. economy shows signs of slowing, with unemployment benefit applications rising more than expected.

Initial claims increased by 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 243,000 for the week ending July 1, prompting speculation that the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates sooner than anticipated. Lower rates could boost spending on oil, creating a bullish outlook for demand.

Fed officials suggested that improved inflation and a balanced labor market might lead to rate cuts, possibly by September.

“Healthy expectations of a Fed rate cut in the not-so-distant future will limit downside,” noted Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

However, rising jobless claims signal potential economic easing, which could dampen crude demand.

John Kilduff of Again Capital highlighted the impact of a slowing economy on oil consumption despite a significant drop in U.S. crude inventories last week.

Global factors also weighed on the market. China’s economic policies remain steady, though details are sparse, affecting investor sentiment in the world’s largest crude importer.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank maintained interest rates, citing persistent inflation.

An upcoming OPEC+ meeting in August is expected to assess market conditions without altering output policy, according to sources. This meeting will serve as a “pulse check” for market health.

Overall, oil prices are caught between economic concerns and hopes of a rate cut, maintaining a delicate balance.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Slide on China Demand Concerns, Brent Falls to $83.73

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Crude Oil - Investors King

Oil prices declined on Tuesday for the third consecutive day on growing concerns over a slowing Chinese economy and its impact on global oil demand.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dipped by $1.12, or 1.3% at $83.73 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped $1.15, or 1.4%, to close at $80.76.

The dip in oil prices is largely attributed to disappointing economic data from China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Official figures revealed a 4.7% growth in China’s GDP for the April-June period, the slowest since the first quarter of 2023, and below the forecasted 5.1% growth expected in a Reuters poll.

This slowdown was compounded by a protracted property downturn and widespread job insecurity, which have dampened fuel demand and led many Chinese refineries to cut back on production.

“Weaker economic data continues to flow from China as continued government support programs have been disappointing,” said Dennis Kissler, Senior Vice President of Trading at BOK Financial. “Many of China’s refineries are cutting back on weaker fuel demand.”

Despite the bearish sentiment from China, there is a growing consensus among market participants that the U.S. Federal Reserve could begin cutting its key interest rates as soon as September.

This speculation has helped stem the decline in oil prices, as lower interest rates reduce the cost of borrowing, potentially boosting economic activity and oil demand.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell noted on Monday that the three U.S. inflation readings over the second quarter “add somewhat to confidence” that the pace of price increases is returning to the central bank’s target in a sustainable fashion.

This has led market participants to believe that a turn to interest rate cuts may be imminent.

Also, U.S. crude oil inventories provided a silver lining for the oil market. According to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures, U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels last week.

This was a much steeper drop than the 33,000 barrels decline that was anticipated, indicating strong domestic demand.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also weighed in, suggesting that while the global economy is set for modest growth over the next two years, risks remain.

The IMF noted cooling activity in the U.S., a bottoming-out in Europe, and stronger consumption and exports for China as key factors in the global economic landscape.

In summary, while oil prices are currently pressured by concerns over China’s economic slowdown, the potential for U.S. interest rate cuts and stronger domestic demand for crude are providing some support.

Market watchers will continue to monitor economic indicators and inventory levels closely as they gauge the future direction of oil prices.

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