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Market Today: Another Day, Another Rollercoaster Ride



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

Volatility is the only thing that appears to be certain in the markets right now, as European stocks pare losses to even sneak into positive territory on the day while US futures now eye only a small decline after the bank holiday weekend.

The old adage goes that the market hates uncertainty and while that has clearly been evident at times over the last couple of weeks, there’s no doubt that investors continue to be tempted back in at the slightest hint of diplomacy winning the day. Even after the events of the last 24 hours and all of the rhetoric that’s accompanied it, there remains hope.

Russia still claims to desire a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine, despite being the catalyst for the latest escalation when recognising the independence of two separatist regions. That decision has invited a barrage of criticism and sanctions will follow today which will no doubt damage diplomatic efforts that appeared to be making headway earlier this week.

Of course, while the latest developments look like a precursor to an invasion – and may well be just that – they could also be deliberate attempts to add further urgency to the situation and force people into serious negotiations. As it stands, investors appear to be hoping this is the case and as long as Russia continues to seek a diplomatic solution and troops remain on the right side of the border, interest in the dips will remain.

As the crisis deepens though, we will continue to see risks being priced in accordingly, and nowhere is that more evident than in Russian assets and the oil and gas markets. The move by Germany to halt certification of Nord Stream 2 following the events of the last 24 hours is not entirely surprising but does block what would have otherwise been one passage to alleviating pressures in the gas market in the coming months.

Oil eyeing $100 after Ukraine escalation

While stock markets are enjoying a partial recovery, oil and gas prices remain elevated as a conflict in Ukraine significantly increases the risk of disruptions to Russian supply. While there is reportedly no desire to intentionally restrict supplies in the face of further escalation, assurances will be taken with a pinch of salt given recent developments.

The market remains extremely tight for oil and gas and the risk of disruption will result in a significant risk premium for as long as the possibility of conflict remains. A nuclear deal between the US and Iran will alleviate some of the pressures in the oil market but as we’re seeing, that’s doing little to stop oil prices marching towards $100.

Gold pares gains but remains well supported

Gold is now trading a little lower on the day after trading as high as $1,913 earlier in the session as risk appetite has gradually improved. The recovery looks fragile at best and barring a significant positive development, it’s hard to imagine gold not seeing plenty of support on the dips.

For so long, people have questioned gold’s position as a safe haven and an inflation hedge but recent events have put that debate to bed. The yellow metal continues to trade around $1,900 and could go much further in the event of major escalation.

Bitcoin suffers in risk-averse trade

Bitcoin is seeing some reprieve today after falling more than 15% since last Thursday. Risk aversion has weighed heavily on the cryptocurrency and in the absence of a significant improvement in Ukraine, we could see further pressure on it and other risk assets. With bitcoin back below $40,000, the focus switches back to recent notable levels, including $36,250 – where it has seen support today – and $33,000. But the big level remains $30,000 which has been key for many months.

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Nigeria’s Power Sector to Get $7.5bn from $30bn African Electrification Initiative, Says Minister Adelabu



Power - Investors King

Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu has said that Nigeria is set to receive a portion of a $30 billion investment aimed at electrifying Africa.

During a visit to Splendor Electric Nigeria Limited, Adelabu revealed that the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have committed to this ambitious initiative with Nigeria slated to receive approximately $7.5 billion, or 25% of the total fund.

The groundbreaking initiative is designed to extend electrification to an additional 300 million Africans over the next five years.

This large-scale project aims to address the energy deficit that has long plagued the continent and is expected to transform the power infrastructure significantly.

Adelabu expressed optimism about Nigeria’s role in the project, citing the country’s large population and ongoing power sector reforms as key factors in securing a substantial share of the funds.

“I want to inform you of the proposal or the intention, which is at an advanced stage, by the World Bank and the African Development Bank to spend about $30 billion to extend electrification to an additional 300 million Africans within the next five years. Nigeria is going to participate fully in this. I am confident that nothing less than 20% or 25% of this fund would come into Nigeria because of our population,” Adelabu stated.

The minister’s visit to Splendor Electric Nigeria Limited, a porcelain insulator company, underscores the government’s commitment to involving local businesses in the electrification drive.

The investment will focus on enhancing and upgrading power infrastructure, which is crucial for improving electricity access and reliability across Nigeria.

Despite the promising news, Nigeria continues to face significant challenges in its power sector. The country’s power grid has suffered frequent collapses, with the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reporting less than 13 million electricity customers and frequent nationwide blackouts.

The International Energy Agency highlighted that Nigeria’s national grid experienced 46 collapses from 2017 to 2023, exacerbating the nation’s energy crisis.

To combat these issues, the government is also advancing the Presidential Power Initiative, a project in collaboration with Siemens, which aims to build thousands of new lines and numerous transmission and injection substations.

Adelabu noted that the pilot phase of this initiative is nearing completion and that Phase 1 will commence soon.

With over 200 million people and a chronic energy shortfall, Nigeria’s power sector is in urgent need of overhaul.

The additional $7.5 billion from the African Electrification Initiative represents a critical step toward achieving reliable and widespread electricity access.

The investment is expected to stimulate not only infrastructure development but also economic growth, creating opportunities for local companies and improving the quality of life for millions of Nigerians.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Climb as Markets Eye Potential US Rate Cuts in September



Crude oil - Investors King

Oil prices rose during the Asian trading session today on speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve may begin cutting interest rates as soon as September.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, increased by 32 cents to $82.95 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil climbed 34 cents to $80.47.

The anticipation of rate cuts stems from recent U.S. inflation and labor market data indicating a trend towards disinflation and balanced employment, according to ANZ Research.

The Federal Reserve is set to review its policy on July 30-31, with expectations of holding rates steady but providing clues for potential cuts in September.

The potential rate cuts could stimulate economic activity, increasing demand for oil. This optimism has been partially offset by recent concerns over China’s slower-than-expected economic growth, which could dampen global oil demand.

President Joe Biden’s announcement to not seek re-election and endorse Vice President Kamala Harris had minimal impact on oil markets.

Analysts suggest that U.S. presidential influence on oil production is limited, although a potential Trump presidency could boost oil demand due to his stance against electric vehicles.

In response to economic challenges, China surprised markets by lowering key policy and lending rates. While these measures aim to bolster the economy, analysts remain cautious about their immediate impact on oil demand.

With OPEC+ production cuts continuing to support prices, the focus remains on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s next moves.

Any decision to cut rates could further influence oil prices in the coming months, highlighting the interconnectedness of global economic policies and energy markets.

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Crude Oil

Dangote Refinery Clash Threatens Nigeria’s Oil Sector Stability



Crude oil

Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is facing a new challenge as a dispute between Dangote Industries Limited and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency (NMDPRA) intensifies.

The disagreement centers on claims by NMDPRA that diesel from the Dangote Refinery contains high sulfur levels, making it inferior to imported products.

The $20 billion Dangote Refinery, located near Lagos, has the potential to process half of Nigeria’s daily oil output, promising to reduce dependency on foreign fuel imports and create thousands of jobs.

However, the recent accusations have cast a shadow over what should be a significant achievement for Africa’s largest economy.

Industry experts warn that the ongoing conflict could deter future investments in Nigeria’s oil sector.

“Regulatory uncertainty is a major disincentive for investors,” said Luqman Agboola, head of energy at Sofidia Capital. “Any factor affecting foreign investment impacts the entire value chain, risking potential energy deals.”

The regulatory body, led by Farouk Ahmed, maintains that Nigeria cannot rely solely on the Dangote facility to meet its petroleum needs, emphasizing the need for diverse sources.

This position has stirred controversy, with critics accusing the agency of attempting to undermine a vital national asset.

Amidst these tensions, energy analyst Charles Ogbeide described the agency’s comments as reckless, noting that the refinery is still in its commissioning stages and is working to optimize its sulfur output.

In response, Dangote Industries has called for fair assessments of its products, asserting that their diesel meets African standards.

The refinery’s leadership argues that certain factions may have ulterior motives, aiming to stifle progress through misinformation.

As the dispute continues, the broader implications for Nigeria’s oil sector remain uncertain. The outcome will likely influence not only domestic production but also the country’s standing in the global energy market.

Observers hope for a resolution that supports both industrial growth and regulatory integrity, ensuring stability in a sector crucial to Nigeria’s economy.

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