Connect with us

Markets

The Dust Settles

Published

on

Egyptian Stock Exchange in Cairo

By Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific, OANDA

The dust is settling on central bank week, with the Bank of Japan leaving policy rates and its 10-year JGB yield target of 0.0% unchanged. It has announced it will scale back its pandemic bond and commercial buying programmes in 2022 while extending the SME relief programme. USD/JPY is sharply unchanged, unsurprising given that the US/Japan yield differential is its key driver.

The BOJ’s announcement follows in a similar vein to the ECB’s “the lady is not for tapering” tapering not tapering announcement yesterday. Policy rates remained unchanged, but a tapering of the PEPP was announced, although it replaced that by that with, you guessed it, more QE under the old APP scheme, as well as continuing with the TLTRO’s. A very European compromise overall with the ECB acknowledging inflationary pressures, but well and truly hedging its bets. Overall, the QE forever family of the BOJ and ECB made plenty of noise but did very little tinkering under the bonnet. Both the Yen and the Euro are likely to have a tough Q1 versus the US Dollar.

Elsewhere, it was a mixed result. Norway and Britain have hiked modestly, while Australia and Southeast Asia remain cemented to unchanged, inflation be damned. Latin America, Eastern Europe and Russia have seen a series of hikes continuing and this will spare them the worst of the ravages of a stronger US Dollar in H1 2022. Turkey, meanwhile, cut rates under Erdoganomics. President Erdogan also fired a couple of people, and the Turkish Lira looks to have lost another 12% while I have been away this week. I might have to pencil in USD/TRY at 20.000 by early January at this rate. It would be comical if it wasn’t so sad for the people of Turkey.

The FOMC has swung to hawkish, as per the hints from Jerome Powell pre-FOMC. A faster taper and three rate hikes “dot-plotted” into 2022 are the new reality now. I wasn’t the least surprised at the equity and bond market reaction. The “buy everything” story rules the roost and annoying things like reality won’t get in the way of it. The FOMC flip was interpreted by the perpetual mega-bulls as proactively anchoring future inflation expectations, something long-dated bond markets have been pricing in forever, so buy big-tech, I mean growth. How bonds and equities will weather the Fed not buying billions of bonds each month remains to be seen. The story looks to be running out of steam already looking at equity markets overnight. The US yield curve will maintain a healthy attraction if you are a fund manager in QE-forever Europe or Japan, so I am not expecting long-dated yields to explode higher. It does, however, reinforce my thoughts that the US Dollar will be the winner in H1 2022.

I will reiterate once again, however, that V for Volatility, and not directional trends, will continue to be the winner in December. I am also quietly hoping that the US Dollar falls, and equities rise in January as well. The new budget year usually brings a group-think kitchen-sink rush in a particular thematic trade. Unfortunately, bitter experience tells me that the first big move of the year in January is usually the wrong one. So, keep going on the “buy-everything” trade, it’s all part of my cunning plan, and I love it when a plan comes together.

In Asia today, Singapore posted robust non-oil exports. Overall, omicron has not caused the global economy to blink yet it seems, but that appears to be because the world is fed up with lockdowns and restrictions, rather than the virus itself. The news from China continues to concern, however. The bottom-pickers buy recommendations are flowing thick and fast on China property companies. As I said last week, there’s never just one cockroach.

Having vaccinated its population with Sinovac, which doesn’t appear to work against omicron, we can safely assume China won’t be opening borders in 2022. That, along with the still-developing property sector woes will crimp growth. Additionally, the US has added another 34 Chinese entities to its blacklist, so US/China relations are going nowhere in a hurry. Hopefully, the rest of the world can pick up some of the slack in 2022.

I note that the YouTuber’s tool of choice, drone maker DJI, is one of those entities. Are YouTubers about to suffer a Christmas Black Swan? Hit the like and subscribe buttons to see.

A mixed day for Asian equities.

The post-FOMC “inflation expectations are now anchored” rally has petered out. Technology, or growth, took a bath overnight as the Nasdaq plummeted by 2.47%, while the S&P 500 fell 0.87%, with the “value-heavy” Dow Jones easing just 0.09%. In Asia, futures on all three indexes continue to ease, shedding around 0.30%. With multiple expires on equity instruments occurring this evening in the US, some distortion because of that could be in play, as could end of yearbook squaring etc. I expect the choppy price action to continue to spoof fast-money players into the year-end, both in the US and elsewhere.

The Wall Street tech retreat overnight has had a similar effect on Asian markets with similar weightings, with the US addition of another swath of Chinese companies to their entity lists also weighing on sentiment. The Nikkei 225 is 1.55% lower, with markets completely ignoring the Bank of Japan. South Korea’s Kospi has eased by 0.25%. Mainland China is also lower, the Shanghai Composite falling by 0.95%, and the CSI 300 has retreated by 0.70%. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng is 1.25% in the red.

Regionally, Singapore has eased 0.30% lower while Kuala Lumpur has climbed 0.30%. Jakarta has retreated 0.40%, with Taipei easing just 0.15%. Bangkok and Manila have fallen by 0.40%. Australia is bucking the trend with local markets rising. The All Ordinaries has risen 0.25%, while the ASX has rallied by 0.35%.

Softer post-FOMC US Dollar continues.

The US Dollar fell after the FOMC meeting as investors priced in lower longer-term inflation expectations thanks to a pro-active FOMC. Longer-dated yields continue to trade on the softer side, although volatility remains at the shorter end of the curve. There is also likely to be some end of year book-squaring flows that will weigh on the greenback over the next two weeks. It will be interesting to see if we get the usual squeeze on overnight offshore dollar funding rates over the New Year turn this year, which should be greenback supportive next week.

Also weighing on sentiment is the failure of the Biden Build Back Better Bill to make it through the US Congress this year; if it ever does. Technically, that should mean less government borrowing, and less upward pressure on US bond yields and thus, less upward pressure on the US Dollar. Risk sentiment is also steadier in currency versus equity markets right now, particularly6 regarding omicron. Currency markets are pricing in no virus dip from the new variant, most notable in strength in Asian EM and the commonwealths.

The dollar index fell sharply again overnight by 0.34% to 96.00, easing to 95.92 in Asia. Support at 95.50 could well be tested into the year-end, and I would not be surprised to see that continue into January before the FOMC monetary reality hits markets. EUR/USD rose sharply overnight to 1.1340 after a taper, not taper, announcement from the ECB. The rally remains asthmatic though, unable to reclaim 1.1350, and the Euro, along with the Yen, remain highly vulnerable to US Dollar strength and rate differentials going forward.

A 10 basis point hike from the Bank of England overnight has lifted GBP/USD to 1.3330 today with the street pricing in future hikes after yesterday’s surprise. However, until we close above 1.3500, Sterling remains in a technical downtrend and the UK could yet suffer an omicron upset. AUD, CAD and NZD all outperformed overnight thanks to steady risk sentiment, much like Asian FX.

Asian currencies have had a mixed performance. The Yuan continues to strengthen despite weaker fixes from the PBOC. With China borders likely closed for all of 2022, the trade surplus flows will continue underpinning Yuan strength. The SGD, THB, PHP, and IDR have all performed well post-FOMC, most likely because omicron has been discounted as a risk factor by investors. Although the INR and KRW have failed to rally, they are still holding steady. Both currencies are likely to feel the heat of fast-money outflows into the year-end, limiting gains.

Oil searches for equilibrium.

Oil prices have endured another choppy range-trading week, although, by the standards of early December, the volatility remains modest. A continuing recovery ex-China and the threat of OPEC+ moving suddenly, is offset by an easing energy crunch in China and omicron growth fears. That has left oil markets looking for a more settled equilibrium price until the narrative convincingly changes one way or the other.

Brent crude rose 0.40% to $74.60 overnight, easing to $74.30 in Asia. It looks set to trade between its 100 and 200-day moving averages (DMAs) at $76.80 and $73.20 into the year-end. WTI climbed by 0.70% to $71.95 overnight, easing to $71.60 in Asia. It has clearly denoted resistance above $73.00 a barrel, followed by its 100-DMA at $74.00. Its 200-DMA at $70.50, and technical support at $69.50 a barrel, should contain any sell-offs.

Gold’s recovery continues.

Gold spiked higher overnight, continues its post-FOMC recovery. Gold finished 1.25% higher at $1799.00 an ounce, an impressive rally in two days from its post-FOMC lows around $1753.00 an ounce. In Asia, the rally has continued, with gold rising 0.30% to $1805.00 an ounce as local investors put on risk insurance for the weekend.

Gold has now cleared and closed above its 50, 100 and 200-DMAs at $1789.00, $1795.00 and $1786.50, an ostensibly bullish technical move. As ever, though, the rally overnight has more than a small hint of desperate fast-money to it. Gold bulls have been led to water before, only to find a massive Nile crocodile awaiting them in the watering hole.

The jury is still out on whether the rally is sustainable, although is US Dollar weakness continues, combined with year-end risk hedging, there may still be juice left in it. Gold has resistance at $1810.00 and $1820.00 an ounce and that could possibly extend to $1840.00 an ounce. Readers should tread with extreme caution if we see that level before the month-end.

Crude Oil

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

Published

on

Crude Oil - Investors King

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.

 

Continue Reading

Crude Oil

Nigerian Oil Loses Ground to Cheaper US and Russian Crude

Published

on

Crude oil

Nigeria’s once-thriving oil industry is facing a significant challenge as traditional buyers increasingly turn to more affordable alternatives from the United States and Russia.

This shift has led to France emerging as the leading buyer of Nigerian crude, marking a significant change in the global oil market dynamics.

Top Nigerian crude grades like Bonny Light, Forcados, and Brass have long been favored by refineries in Europe and Asia due to their low sulfur content.

However, the country’s primary customers, including India and China, are now opting for cheaper US and Russian oil.

This trend poses a substantial risk to Nigeria, which relies on oil exports for more than half of its foreign exchange earnings.

Data from BusinessDay reveals a stark decline in India’s purchase of Nigerian crude. In the first quarter of 2024, India bought N1.3 trillion worth of Nigerian oil, a significant drop from the average of N2 trillion purchased between 2018 and 2021.

“Buyers are increasingly turning to cheaper alternatives, raising concerns for the country’s revenue stream,” said Aisha Mohammed, a senior energy analyst at the Lagos-based Centre for Development Studies.

The latest tanker-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg indicates that India is buying more American crude oil as Russian energy flows dwindle amid sanctions.

India’s state-owned oil refiners and leading private companies have increased their imports of US crude, reaching nearly seven million barrels of April-loading US oil. This shift is the largest monthly inflow since last May.

Russian crude flows to India surged following the invasion of Ukraine, making Russia the biggest supplier to the South Asian nation.

However, tighter US sanctions have stranded Russian cargoes, narrowing discounts, and prompting India to ramp up purchases from Saudi Arabia.

“Given the issues faced with importing Sokol in Russia, it’s no surprise that Indian refineries are turning toward US WTI Midland as their light-sweet alternative,” explained Dylan Sim, an analyst at industry consultant FGE.

As a result, France has overtaken the Netherlands to become the biggest buyer of Nigerian crude oil, purchasing products worth N2.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2024.

Spain and India occupied second and fourth positions, with imports valued at N1.72 trillion and N1.3 trillion respectively, as of March 2024.

The sluggish pace of sales for Nigeria’s May supplies highlights the market’s shifting dynamics. Findings show that about 10 cargoes of Nigerian crude for May loading were still available for purchase, indicating a reduced demand.

Rival suppliers such as Azeri Light and West Texas Intermediate have also seen price weaknesses, impacting Nigerian crude demand.

“We’ve got much weaker margins, so Nigeria’s crude demand is taking a hit,” noted James Davis, director of short-term oil market research at FGE.

Sellers seeking premiums over the Dated Brent benchmark have found the European market less receptive, according to Energy Aspects Ltd.

“May cargoes were at a premium that didn’t work that well into Europe, but lower offers have seen volumes move,” said Christopher Haines, EA global crude analyst. “Stronger forward diesel pricing is also helping.”

Some Nigerian grades are being priced more competitively, including Qua Iboe to Asia and Bonny Light to the Mediterranean or East, with the overhang slowly reducing, according to Sparta Commodities.

However, the overall reduced demand could lead to a decrease in revenue from oil exports, a major source of income for the Nigerian government.

“Reduced demand could lead to a decrease in revenue from oil exports, a major source of income for the Nigerian government,” warned Charles Ogbeide, an energy analyst with a Lagos-based investment bank.

Continue Reading

Commodities

Refiners Predict Petrol Prices to Fall to N300/Litre with Adequate Local Crude Supply

Published

on

Petrol - Investors King

The pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as petrol, could drop to N300 per litre once local production ramps up significantly, according to operators of modular refineries.

This projection hinges on the provision of sufficient crude oil to domestic refiners, which they say would undercut the exorbitant costs currently imposed by foreign refineries.

Speaking under the aegis of the Crude Oil Refinery Owners Association of Nigeria (CORAN), the refiners stressed the urgency for the government to ensure a steady supply of crude oil to local processing plants.

They argue that the reliance on imported petroleum products has been economically disadvantageous for Nigeria.

Eche Idoko, Publicity Secretary of CORAN, emphasized that the current high costs could be mitigated by boosting local production.

“If we begin to produce PMS in large volumes and ensure adequate crude oil supply, the pump price could be reduced to N300 per litre. This would prevent Nigerians from paying nearly N700 per litre and stop foreign refiners from profiting excessively at our expense,” Idoko stated.

The potential price drop follows the model seen with diesel, which experienced a significant price reduction once the Dangote Petroleum Refinery began its production.

“Diesel prices dropped from N1,700-N1,800 per litre to N1,200 per litre after Dangote started producing. This is a clear indication that local production can drastically reduce costs,” Idoko explained.

In a previous statement, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, affirmed that Nigeria would cease importing petrol by June 2024 due to the Dangote Refinery’s capacity to meet local demand.

Dangote also expressed confidence in the refinery’s ability to cater to West Africa’s diesel and aviation fuel needs.

Challenges and Governmental Role

However, achieving this price reduction is contingent on several factors, including the provision of crude oil at the naira equivalent of its dollar rate.

CORAN has advocated for this approach, citing that it would bolster the naira and reduce the financial burden on refiners who currently buy crude in dollars.

The Nigerian government has shown some commitment towards this goal. Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), confirmed that a framework has been developed to ensure consistent supply of crude oil to domestic refineries.

“We have created a template for the Domestic Crude Oil Supply Obligation to foster seamless supply to local refineries,” Komolafe stated.

Industry Reactions

Oil marketers have welcomed the potential for reduced petrol prices. Abubakar Maigandi, President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), expressed optimism about the Dangote Refinery’s impact on petrol prices.

“We expect the price of locally produced PMS to be below the current NNPC rate of N565.50 per litre. Ideally, we are looking at a price around N500 per litre,” Maigandi noted.

Continue Reading
Advertisement




Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending