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Sell the Rally, Tesla falls 10%, King Dollar, Oil Falls, Nat Gas Squeeze, Gold Breaks $1800, Bitcoin Declines

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Gold - Investors King

By Edward Moya, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

Market volatility is not going away anytime soon as the ‘buy the dip’ crowd has a new motto, ‘sell the rally’.  Today’s stock market rally did not last as corporate America reminded us that supply chain troubles persist, and profit forecasts are not providing any reasons to be optimistic.  Many traders are still processing what happened yesterday with the Fed and the reality is that they missed an opportunity. 

It is hard to aggressively maintain a bullish stance with equities when you know the Fed missed an opportunity going full hawk, which would lead to one last major surge in Treasury yields that would not yield a complete collapse in economic growth prospects as the Fed would be viewed as finally catching up in battling inflation.  Yesterday, the Fed should have ended their bond buying and clearly sent a strong signal for a March liftoff.

Tesla

Tesla shares tumbled after the electric car maker said they won’t be rolling out any new model vehicles in 2022.  Investors were excited that Elon Musk was participating on the earnings call, which many saw as a sign a big announcement was happening.  Musk is focusing on self-driving and on the Tesla-robot to work in factories.  Tesla is clearly running out of momentum and the lack of a launch of a low-budget car in the mid-$20,000 range really dampens the growth outlook as the competition tries to catch up. Tesla is still the EV king and given the chip and commodity shortage problems globally, this might be the right call for the company, but most analysts will hate it.

FX

The curve is flattening as front-end rates rise on expectations that the Fed may have to deliver more tightening.  Over the past eight Fed hiking cycles, the dollar weakened 75% of the time in the six months following the beginning of rate hikes. This time is much different than the recoveries seen in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and entering an unbalanced global economic recovery, with several geopolitical risks, the dollar could have some support from several opportunities that stem from some safe-haven purchases of Treasuries. The dollar outlook could appreciate further here as investors begin to price in four or five Fed rate hikes this year, but the growth potential abroad should limit that upside.

Oil

WTI crude prices reversed earlier gains as the dollar surged following better-than-expected economic data that supported the idea that the economy can handle rapid Fed rate hikes.  No one is questioning how tight the oil market remains, but there is some exhaustion after making fresh seven-year highs and that has led to some profit-taking.  The developments in Ukraine have been constructive as diplomacy continues and while progress has not been made, a period of calm could perhaps have energy traders refrain from resorting to their buy every oil dip strategy.

The focus for many in the oil space will shift to the OPEC+ policy meeting next week which should be an easy meeting that delivers another modest production increase. The political pressure is growing for OPEC+ to deliver more barrels of crude, but they will likely stick to the expected increase of 400,000 bpd for March. With some OPEC+ members struggling to reach their quotas, any oil weakness should be limited.

Nat Gas

US natural gas prices surged over 70% for February delivery as short sellers may have gotten squeezed out ahead of February expiration.  Many hedge funds were betting natural gas would go up as frigid weather sent demand soaring, but money managers were short.

Gold

Gold’s pain gets worse as investors grow pessimistic over how non-interest bearing assets may perform this year now that the Fed seems poised to deliver four or five rate hikes this year. Another round of economic data supported the tightening arguments as the US economy had the strongest year in decades, while omicron likely had a short-term impact on durable goods and pending home sales.

Gold is vulnerable to further technical selling now that the $1800 level has been breached, with $1760 providing key support.  Risk aversion will eventually lead to some flows back into bullion, but that won’t happen until this selloff is over.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s rollercoaster ride is not over yet as risky assets take a hit on growing expectations that the Fed could be more aggressive tightening policy this year.  The Fed got inflation wrong and the scramble to deliver interest rate hikes this year is sending the best performing assets during the pandemic tumbling. The Fed’s aggressive fight against inflation will ease once financial conditions are threatened and that is far away.  The next couple of months will remain very choppy for crypto markets but the fundamentals still support a broadening formation for the top performing cryptos.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Slide as U.S. Crude Stockpiles Surge, Heightening Demand Concerns

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Crude oil

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.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Shortage Threatens Dangote, Government Refineries, Minister Raises Alarm

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Dangote Refinery

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.

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Energy

NNPCL Pledges End to Nigeria’s Energy Scarcity Within a Decade

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Mele Kyari - Investors King

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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