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Crude Oil

Markets Today – Interest Rates, US/Iran Talks, Oil, Gold, Bitcoin



Oil prices - Investors King

By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

It’s been a relatively timid start to the week which is perhaps not overly surprising given the rather eventful period we’ve just experienced.

Going into a new week, the dominant theme in the market is the same and will be for some time. The last couple of weeks has only elevated that as central banks have shifted into a higher gear and markets have continued to price in ever more tightening.

In the case of the ECB, a handbrake turn on interest rates has certainly not gone unnoticed and everyone will be clinging to their every word in the coming weeks ahead of the March meeting.

What has been encouraging is that we haven’t seen the same level of anxiety in the markets to the moves. Sure, Europe has some catching up to do as we saw last week and tech has looked a little vulnerable, but broadly speaking, volatility has remained but the falling knife scenario appears to be behind us.

And with so much now priced in – of course, there’s always room for more – we could see investors taking some comfort from the fact that the worst appears to be behind us. One thing that will help on that front is an easing of inflationary pressures or at least some indication of that happening.

This week’s inflation data is unlikely to provide that and we’re probably a couple of months from the peak. So while that will bring some anxiety if we’re once again seeing above estimate numbers, it’s things like the surveys that could provide hope that we’re on a better trajectory.

Until then, the Fed minutes this week and the various commentary from central banks are unlikely to make for good reading and listening. Policymakers now know they can’t be seen to be taking inflation too lightly. They’ve bought as much time as they can. They now need the data to do them and the rest of us a favour.

Oil rally stalls as nuclear talks take a step forward

Oil prices are a little flat at the start of the week with the rally losing a little momentum after nuclear talks between the US and Iran appeared to make positive progress. It seems we’re into the final stretch, one way or another, and Biden’s decision to restore sanction waivers could signal that they’re heading in the right direction.

Biden has an additional incentive to reach a deal, given the sky-high crude prices and what a deal could do to ease the tightness in the market just before the midterms. He’s tried a coordinated SPR release and let’s be honest, it achieved very little. This could make a real difference at a time when crude appears destined for $100 and OPEC+ can’t hit their output targets.

Gold continuing to find support

Gold is once again pushing higher even as central banks continue to gravitate towards the markets view on inflation. The ECB was the latest to concede defeat – or at least signal it soon will – while interest rate expectations elsewhere are rising. Even against this backdrop, gold remains in favour and has driven its way back above $1,800.

Whether it’s safe-haven flows or the belief that central banks aren’t doing enough to get to grips with inflation, the yellow metal is continuing to see plenty of love. The next test is around $1,830 where it’s struggled in the past, with the January highs around $1,850 then key.

Is the worst behind it for bitcoin?

Bitcoin hasn’t only weathered the recent storm, it’s managed to rally through a key resistance level and generate some decent upside momentum as well. It’s been a mixed week for risk assets but bitcoin is finding some form and the break of $40,000 could be key to it continuing to build on that. We’ve seen what bitcoin can do once it gets moving and while it’s still early days, there’s certainly reason to think the worst may be behind it. The next big test is $45,000.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Remain Steady Ahead of U.S. Inflation Data



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Oil prices were holding steady on Friday as investors awaited the release of key U.S. inflation data that could provide clues on future interest rate moves.

Brent crude oil, the international benchmark for Nigerian oil, which has risen by almost 6% this week was up by 0.2% at $79.45 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose by 0.7% to $74.89.

Concerns about a full-blown global banking crisis have abated after banks in the U.S. and Europe were rescued, and oil prices have broadly recouped losses that followed the largest bank failures since the 2008 financial crisis.

Oil prices have also been supported by the shutdown or reduction of output at several oilfields in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq following a halt to the northern export pipeline.

Data has shown that U.S. crude oil stockpiles have fallen to a two-year low while China’s manufacturing activity rose in March.

Investors are now waiting for the U.S. personal consumption expenditures (PCE) figures due later today to decipher market direction. Economists polled by Reuters expect the core PCE index to ease to 0.4% in February from January and stay broadly steady on an annual basis at 4.7%.

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill intended to boost U.S. oil and gas production while scaling back climate initiatives.

Sources have suggested that with oil prices recovering from recent lows, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia are likely to stick to their existing deal to cut oil output at a meeting on Monday.

Investors will be closely monitoring the outcome of this meeting and any further developments that may impact oil prices.

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Oil Prices Rise on Unexpected U.S. Crude Stockpile Drop and Halt in Iraqi Exports



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Oil prices increased on Thursday due to a surprise decline in U.S. crude stockpiles and a stoppage in exports from the Kurdistan region of Iraq that outweighed a smaller-than-expected cut in Russian supplies.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, climbed 0.51% to $78.68 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 0.71% to $73.49 a barrel.

The Energy Information Administration revealed on Wednesday that U.S. crude oil stockpiles had dropped unexpectedly in the week ended March 24 to a two-year low.

Analysts had predicted a 100,000-barrel increase, but the inventory dropped by 7.5 million barrels.

Also, exports from Iraq’s northern region remained suspended due to oilfield producers shutting down or decreasing production following a stoppage to the northern export pipeline.

The Kurdistan-Iraq premium in oil prices, however, may vanish sooner than anticipated, as analysts from Citi predicted that pipeline flows could grow by around 200,000 barrels per day due to changes in Iraq’s domestic politics, which could lead to a durable political settlement.

Although the lower-than-expected cut to Russian crude oil production caused bearish sentiment, it was offset by the unexpected U.S. crude stockpile drop and halt in Iraqi exports.

The 300,000 barrels per day production decline in the first three weeks of March represented around 5% of Russian output, compared to targeted cuts of 500,000 barrels per day.

UBS stated that they anticipate rising Chinese crude imports and lower Russian production to boost prices over the coming quarters, despite the potential for near-term volatility in oil prices.

Meanwhile, markets will keep an eye on U.S. spending and inflation data scheduled for Friday and their impact on the value of the U.S. dollar.

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NNPCL Intensifies Oil Exploration, Targets 50 Billion Barrels Reserves



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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL has intensified efforts to boost the nation’s crude oil reserves to 50 billion barrels.

Investors King gathered that the NNPCL has drawn out plans to move from the 37 billion barrels of oil reserves to 50 billion barrels through its recent projects.

This is as the national oil company launched officially the spud-in (drilling) for crude oil in the Ebenyi-A Well in Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

Speaking at the event on Tuesday, the Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPCL, Mele Kyari stated that the new drilling rig at the Ebenyi-A Well site will increase Nigeria’s oil output to about three million barrels per day.

In November 2022, the national oil company inaugurated the Kolmani oil well located between Bauchi and Gombe states to also improve the nation’s oil reserves, Investors King recalls.

Kyari noted that the Ebenyi-A Well will greatly aid the NNPCL in attaining its 50 million barrels oil reserves target.

He spoke on the collaboration between NNPC Limited and Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NURPC) for better oil exploration activities through the use of technology for the nation’s frontier basins which cuts across the Chad Basin, Upper and Lower Benue troughs, Bida Basin, the Sokoto Basin, Dahomey, Anambra platform, Calabar embankment and the Ultra deep water Niger Delta.

Kyari disclosed that the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari on the mobilisation for re-entry into the Chad Basin had been enacted and the entry had begun. 

Buhari, who addressed the attendees virtually said the Ebenyi-A Well of the Middle Benue Trough will further aid the exploration of crude and gas in the frontier basins across Nigeria.

He commended the efforts of the NNPCL and support of the government and people of Nasarawa State towards the success of the oil exploration

His words, “Today’s occasion marks the official commencement of exploration drilling activities in the Middle Benue Trough. This is consistent with the commercial discoveries of hydrocarbons in the Kolmani Area of the Upper Benue Trough.

“I am pleased to note that activities are currently ongoing to develop the Kolmani petroleum discoveries to commercial production to add to the nation’s considerable hydrocarbon assets.

“The consequent positive outcomes of these drilling campaigns will lead to greater prosperity for our people and especially enhance overall energy security for our country.”

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