By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA
We’re seeing no shortage of risk-aversion in European markets at the end of the week while US futures are treading water ahead of the hotly anticipated inflation data.
European stocks are suffering an ECB hangover as a hawkish Christine Lagarde warned about the danger of inflation and the need to act straight away. Well, almost straight away. In July, actually, because inflation poses an immediate risk but as with the Fed earlier this year, it’s not urgent enough to break a promise on gradually phasing out bond-buying while leaving a gap between the end of net asset purchases and rate hikes. Policymakers have strange priorities at times.
But that’s fine because then in September and probably October, they can raise rates by 50 basis points as a result of unforeseen pressures and at some point acknowledge they should have moved sooner. That would be easier to stomach if the ECB, like the rest of us, hadn’t watched all year while its peers followed the same playbook to their own detriment. It’s no wonder investors have thrown in the towel.
Will the CPI data deliver another blow?
The Fed has already embarked on its first of many super-sized rate hikes and today’s inflation data may offer some insight into how many are going to be required. There was an immense disappointment last month when the CPI data didn’t fall as far from the peak as expected. That may be a blip but another one or two higher than forecast prints may deliver a serious blow to investors, the Fed and ultimately the economy.
It’s been a year of disappointment on the inflation front as prices have risen much faster and further than anyone expected and become more ingrained in the economy. A slower deceleration on top of that will feed the recessionary fears and stock markets could suffer the consequences.
Hard to make a bearish case for oil
Oil prices are continuing to rise at the end of the week, as extreme tightness in the market was compounded by the US driving season, Norwegian oil strikes this weekend and a near-fatal blow to the Iranian nuclear deal. The gains could have been more significant if not for a setback in the reopening of Shanghai as fresh restrictions and mass testing were undertaken.
It’s hard to make a bearish case for oil prices at the minute and OPEC+ has shown itself incapable of making a difference. Those that can pump more are holding back while others are being given higher quotas they simply can’t fulfil. Meanwhile, oil prices continue to march higher.
Gold slips ahead of inflation data
Gold is slipping a little ahead of the US inflation data but remains well within the range of recent weeks. Today could be the day it breaks out with all eyes on the CPI reading. A stronger reading would be a massive blow to risk appetite and be seen as further evidence of the job the Fed has to get price pressures under control. Which means yields could jump again along with the dollar, pressuring the yellow metal. A weaker reading could deliver the opposite.
Wake up, bitcoin
Bitcoin is still trading around $30,000 and I’m sure crypto traders will be hoping for an inflation surprise one way or another in order to jolt bitcoin back to life. We’ve had brief spurts of volatility but it’s barely moved from $30,000 for the last month.
Oil Prices Rally Amidst Russian Export Ban and Rate Hike Concerns
Oil prices saw an upward trend on Friday as concerns over Russia’s ban on fuel exports potentially tightening global supply.
This development overshadowed apprehensions of further interest rate hikes in the United States that could impact demand.
However, despite this bounce, oil prices were still on course for their first weekly decline in four weeks.
Brent crude oil gained 46 cents, or 0.5% to $93.76 per barrel while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) oil surged by 65 cents, a 0.7% rise to $90.28 a barrel.
These gains were driven by growing concerns regarding tight global supply as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) continued to implement production cuts.
Toshitaka Tazawa, an analyst at Fujitomi Securities Co Ltd, commented on the volatile nature of the market, stating, “Trading remained choppy amid a tug-of-war between supply fears that were reinforced by a Russian ban on fuel exports and worries over slower demand due to tighter monetary policies in the United States and Europe.”
He further noted that investors would closely monitor OPEC+ production cuts and the impact of rising interest rates, predicting that WTI would trade within a range of approximately $90 to $95.
Russia’s abrupt ban on gasoline and diesel exports to countries outside a select group of four ex-Soviet states had an immediate effect as it aimed to stabilize the domestic fuel market. This export restriction prompted a nearly 5% increase in heating oil futures on Thursday.
Tina Teng, an analyst at CMC Markets, explained, “Crude oil bounced off a session low after Russia banned diesel exports, which included gasoline. The action reversed a downside movement in crude markets following the hawkish Fed decision.”
However, she also warned that mounting concerns about a recession in the Eurozone could continue to exert downward pressure on oil prices.
The U.S. Federal Reserve recently maintained its interest rates but adopted a more hawkish stance, projecting a quarter-percentage-point increase to 5.50%-5.75% by the year-end. This decision heightened fears that higher rates might dampen economic growth and reduce fuel demand.
Also, the stronger U.S. dollar, reaching its highest level since early March, made oil and other commodities more expensive for buyers using alternative currencies.
NNPCL’s Crude Commitments Create Hurdles for Dangote’s Oil Operations
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has found itself at the center of a growing challenge faced by the Dangote Petroleum Refinery, one of Africa’s largest industrial projects.
As the refinery gears up for full-scale production, it is grappling with unforeseen hurdles caused by the commitments made by NNPCL in the form of crude oil agreements with other entities.
Dangote Petroleum Refinery, a flagship project of the Dangote Group led by billionaire Aliko Dangote, is on the brink of becoming a game-changer in Nigeria’s energy sector. With a promise to significantly reduce the country’s dependence on imported petroleum products, the refinery holds the potential to bolster the nation’s energy self-sufficiency.
However, recent revelations have shed light on the complexity of the oil industry in Nigeria and how contractual commitments can disrupt even the best-laid plans.
According to Devakumar Edwin, the Executive Director of the Dangote Group, in an interview with S&P Global Commodity Insights, the NNPCL, which normally trades crude oil on behalf of Nigeria, has pledged its crude to other entities.
While Edwin did not disclose the specific recipients of NNPCL’s crude commitments, it was previously announced that the company had entered into a $3 billion crude oil-for-loan deal with the African Export-Import Bank. Under this agreement, NNPCL agreed to allocate future oil production to the bank as repayment for the loan.
This unforeseen twist has left Dangote Petroleum Refinery in a predicament, necessitating the temporary importation of crude oil.
Edwin, however, stated that this importation is only a short-term solution, as the refinery expects to receive crude supply from NNPCL starting in November 2023.
The refinery’s ambitious plans include producing up to 370,000 barrels per day of crude, which will be processed into Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) and jet fuel by October 2023. By November 30, 2023, the plant aims to produce Premium Motor Spirit (petrol), providing a much-needed boost to the domestic fuel market.
While the Dangote Group remains committed to its objectives, the delays caused by NNPCL’s prior commitments have raised concerns among oil marketers.
They believe that the prices of diesel and jet fuel, in particular, will only experience a significant reduction once the refinery begins receiving crude oil supplies from Nigeria rather than importing it.
Despite these temporary setbacks, Edwin reaffirmed the refinery’s readiness to receive crude oil, stating, “Right now, I’m ready to receive crude. We are just waiting for the first vessel. And so, as soon as it comes in, we can start.”
In essence, the shift in the refinery’s original timeline can be attributed to the prior commitments made by NNPCL, causing a momentary delay.
However, it remains a beacon of hope for Nigeria’s energy sector, promising a reliable supply of environmentally-friendly refined products and a substantial influx of foreign exchange into the country.
Devakumar Edwin also underscored that the revenues generated from the refinery’s operations would be reinvested in further developments, reaffirming Aliko Dangote’s unwavering commitment to Nigeria’s economic growth.
As the nation eagerly awaits the commencement of production at the Dangote Petroleum Refinery, it is clear that the complex web of oil industry contracts and commitments has played an unexpected role in shaping the refinery’s journey towards becoming a transformative force in Nigeria’s energy landscape.
Oil Prices Retreat as Markets Await Fed Meeting
Oil prices dipped by almost $1 on Wednesday ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s anticipated interest rate decision.
Investors are grappling with uncertainty surrounding peak rates and the potential impact on energy demand.
Despite a substantial drawdown in U.S. oil inventories and sluggish U.S. shale production indicating a possible tight crude supply for the remainder of 2023, prices tumbled.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, slid 88 cents, or 0.9%, to $93.46 a barrel following Tuesday’s peak of $95.96, its highest level since November.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil also fell by 1%, or 97 cents, to $90.23 a barrel after hitting a 10-month high of $93.74 the previous day.
Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, said, “The oil rally is taking a little break as every trader awaits a pivotal Fed decision that might tilt the scales of whether the U.S. economy has a soft or hard landing.”
He emphasized that the oil market remains “very tight” in the short term.
Investors are closely monitoring central bank interest rate decisions this week, including the Federal Reserve’s announcement, to gauge economic growth and fuel demand. While it’s widely expected that the Fed will maintain interest rates, the focus will be on its projected policy path, which remains uncertain.
U.S. crude oil stockpiles declined significantly, with a 5.25 million-barrel drop last week, exceeding the 2.2 million-barrel decline expected by Reuters analysts.
Goldman Sachs analysts raised their 12-month ahead Brent forecast from $93 a barrel to $100 a barrel, citing lower OPEC supply and higher demand. They believe OPEC can maintain a Brent price range of $80-$105 in 2024.
Russia is considering imposing higher export duties on oil products to address fuel shortages, while U.S. shale oil production is set to reach its lowest point since May 2023. On the demand side, India’s crude oil imports declined for the third consecutive month in August due to maintenance and reduced shipments from Russia.
Exxon Mobil Corp has pledged to increase oil production by nearly 40,000 barrels per day in Nigeria, as part of a new investment initiative in the country, according to a presidential spokesperson.
News3 weeks ago
Npower Program Restores Hope with Long-Awaited Stipend Disbursement
Commodities3 weeks ago
Three Chinese Groups Vying to Acquire $2 Billion Botswana Copper Mine
Naira4 weeks ago
Dollar to Naira Today Black Market, August 28, 2023
Naira4 weeks ago
Dollar to Naira Today Black Market, August 29, 2023
News2 weeks ago
Government Plans to Revamp Npower Scheme and Combat Poverty
Banking Sector3 weeks ago
Guaranty Trust Holding Co. Surpasses Expectations with $468 Million Forex Windfall
Forex3 weeks ago
Dollar to Naira Black Market Today, 1st September 2023
News4 weeks ago
N-Power Batch “C” Beneficiaries Appeal to President Tinubu for Urgent Stipend Intervention