- Global Stock Markets Find Support After Rout
The torrid sell-off that swept through global stock markets this week eased on Friday after a bruising string of losses for investors triggered by worries over rising interest rates.
Major indices bounced off their lows in Europe and across Asia and futures trading pointed to gains on Wall Street. US stocks had suffered another heavy fall on Thursday, extending their losing streak to five sessions — a run blamed by Donald Trump on an “out of control” US Federal Reserve.
As the jitters eased, Frankfurt’s Xetra Dax 30 regained 1.2 per cent in opening trade, while the FTSE 100 recovered 0.3 per cent in London. The Europe-wide Stoxx 600 was up 0.8 per cent. Some of the sectors hit hardest by the selling rebounded most strongly, with the index tracking technology stocks up 1.4 per cent.
“The verdict is still out about current valuations and while some investors are viewing this as a buying opportunity, many others are maintaining a more cautious stance,” said Rebecca O’Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor.
“Trade wars, rising interest rates and slowing growth have been front and centre in terms of big macro reasons for the rout, but the reality is that investors need to be asking whether valuations can be justified by company profits.”
The mood improved throughout the Asian trading day. Tokyo’s Topix held steady overall, turning around from intraday declines after a 3.5 per cent drop in the previous session. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.8 per cent while Taiwan’s TWSE, one of the markets hit hardest this week, rallied more than 3 per cent.
Thursday’s losses took the S&P 500 index down 2.1 per cent, leaving the US benchmark 5 per cent lower over the week. The global FTSE All-World index retreated for a sixth day running, erasing all of 2018’s gains in one of the worst weeks of the year. It was up 0.5 per cent on Friday as European markets opened.
Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, said: “We’ve had a sharp drawdown and now the market has taken a breath,” adding:
“It’s like a Jenga tower. The market has been a tower of blocks, it’s been strong over [the] past 12-18 months but then a few of the bottom blocks have been knocked out. That doesn’t mean it’s going to collapse, it just means there’s more risk in the market than there had been.”
The sharp equity sell-off followed after a bout of turbulence in the US Treasury market driven by strong economic data and a more hawkish Federal Reserve. The yield on the 10-year benchmark, which moves inversely to price, hit a seven-year high of 3.26 per cent earlier this week.
Mr Trump stepped up his criticism over tightening Fed monetary policy in an Oval Office meeting where he said he was “disappointed” in Jay Powell, the central bank chairman, but said he was not thinking of removing him.
“We have interest rates going up at a clip that’s much faster than certainly a lot of people, including myself, would have anticipated. I think the Fed is out of control,” he said.
Mr Trump added: “I’d like our Fed not to be so aggressive because I think they’re making a big mistake,” he said. That followed similar comments on Wednesday, when he said “the Fed has gone crazy”.
Oil Prices Slide as U.S. Crude Stockpiles Surge, Heightening Demand Concerns
Oil prices declined on Thursday as concerns over demand intensified due to a larger-than-anticipated build in U.S. crude stockpiles.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dropped by 0.5% to $83.25 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell by 0.3% to $78.28 a barrel.
The Energy Information Administration’s report revealed a substantial increase in U.S. crude oil stockpiles by 4.2 million barrels to 447.2 million barrels for the week ending February 23rd.
This surge surpassed analysts’ expectations and marked the fifth consecutive week of rising inventories.
While gasoline and distillate inventories witnessed a decline, concerns regarding a sluggish economy and reduced oil demand in the U.S. were amplified.
Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst with Rakuten Securities, highlighted that the significant stockpiles have heightened investor worries.
Moreover, the anticipation of delayed U.S. interest rate cuts further weighed on market sentiment, potentially undermining oil demand.
Traders have adjusted their expectations for rate cuts, with an easing cycle predicted to commence in June rather than March as previously anticipated.
Market participants await the U.S. personal consumption expenditures price index for insights into inflation trends, while the possibility of an extension of voluntary oil output cuts from OPEC+ looms over price dynamics, amid lingering uncertainty in the demand outlook and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
Crude Oil Shortage Threatens Dangote, Government Refineries, Minister Raises Alarm
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, has sounded a clarion call over a looming crude oil shortage that threatens the operations of the newly inaugurated Dangote Petrochemical Refinery and government-owned refineries in Nigeria.
Addressing stakeholders at the seventh edition of the Nigeria International Energy Summit in Abuja, Minister Lokpobiri expressed concerns that unless deliberate efforts are made to increase investments and crude oil production, these refineries may struggle to obtain enough feedstock for petroleum product manufacturing.
The Dangote refinery, a colossal project spearheaded by Dangote Industries Limited, has a daily requirement of up to 650,000 barrels of crude oil, while government-owned refineries could need approximately 400,000 barrels.
However, the current pace of crude oil production and investment in Nigeria falls short of meeting these demands.
Minister Lokpobiri highlighted the need to ramp up production and attract investments in the upstream sector to ensure adequate feedstock supply for the refineries.
He emphasized the importance of efficiently utilizing Nigeria’s abundant oil and gas reserves to enhance domestic energy security and economic prosperity.
Furthermore, the minister underscored the significance of investing in energy infrastructure and transitioning towards more environmentally friendly practices to address Nigeria’s energy needs effectively.
The alarm raised by Minister Lokpobiri underscores the urgency for strategic interventions and collaborative efforts to mitigate the impending crude oil shortage and secure the future of Nigeria’s refining industry amidst evolving global energy dynamics.
NNPCL Pledges End to Nigeria’s Energy Scarcity Within a Decade
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has announced a bold initiative aimed at ending Nigeria’s persistent energy scarcity within the next decade.
Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPCL, revealed this ambitious plan during the opening ceremony of the seventh Nigerian International Energy Summit in Abuja.
Kyari’s announcement comes as a beacon of hope for millions of Nigerians grappling with chronic power shortages and energy deficiencies.
In his statement, Kyari expressed confidence that all issues related to energy scarcity in the country would be resolved within the next 10 years.
Assuring stakeholders of NNPCL’s unwavering commitment, Kyari emphasized the company’s dedication to collaborating with partners to bridge the energy deficit gap and foster prosperity for all Nigerians.
He highlighted NNPCL’s pivotal role as a key partner to oil-producing companies in Nigeria, facilitating the divestment of international oil companies from onshore and shallow water assets in the country.
Furthermore, Kyari underscored NNPCL’s statutory mandate as the enabler of national energy security, emphasizing the importance of sustainable production from divested assets to ensure energy security for Nigerians.
In addition to addressing domestic energy challenges, NNPCL is also exploring avenues for sustainable energy investment across Africa.
Kyari revealed the company’s intention to invest in the proposed African Energy Bank, aiming to secure funding for energy projects on the continent and guarantee regional energy security.
The event, attended by prominent stakeholders including government officials and representatives from international organizations, marks a significant step towards reshaping Nigeria’s energy landscape and fostering economic development through improved energy access.
As NNPCL charts its course towards energy abundance, Nigerians remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects of a brighter energy future.
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