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Nervously Awaiting Jackson Hole

Stock markets are off to a bad start on Monday as investors question whether the recovery trade has gone too far.

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

Stock markets are off to a bad start on Monday as investors question whether the recovery trade has gone too far.

Last week brought an end to the late summer winning streak that saw stock markets recover a significant – and some would argue overly so – portion of the losses endured this year. And it seems that has set the tone going into this week, with Asia and Europe posting losses of more than 1% and US futures pointing to a similar open.

Naturally, all eyes are on Jackson Hole later in the week and in particular, the appearance of Fed Chair Jerome Powell. This platform has in the past been used to make significant announcements and so every year, traders are left on the edge of their seats in case of another this time around.

This year could be an anticlimax on that front as the Fed’s message has been clear since it pivoted to a data-driven approach in July. The markets viewed this as a dovish pivot and policymakers have since pushed back, not helped by the softer inflation data that further fueled the speculation.

With that in mind, the expectation is still that Powell will reaffirm what he and his colleagues have been saying in public recently, without giving too much away ahead of the September meeting, before which we’ll get another inflation and jobs report. The risk is that he says something dovish – intentionally or otherwise – after investors position for the opposite and triggers another risk-on rally in the markets.

European gas surges amid new maintenance plans

Further knocking sentiment in the markets this morning are reports of Nord Stream 1 being shut down again for maintenance later this month. The three-day pause will once again raise fears that the Kremlin will weaponise gas supplies and use the maintenance as an excuse not to resume flows. With storage still below where the EU wants going into the winter, that means a greater risk of shortages and much higher prices, as we’re already seeing this morning with European gas trading up more than 15%.

China rate cut targeted but likely not enough

Meanwhile, China cut its one and five-year loan prime rates on Monday, a move that was expected given the cuts to the reverse repo and MLF rates last week. The composition of the cuts was not quite as expected though, with the one-year cut by only five basis points to 3.65% and the five-year cut by 15bps to 4.3%. This suggests it was very much a move targeted at the ailing property market amid developer struggles and mortgage boycotts.

The problem is that the damage to the property market on top of Covid lockdowns has hit confidence and this cut is unlikely to stimulate demand. Whether the PBOC is up to doing more given the global inflation backdrop isn’t clear.

Oil choppy as traders await JCPOA decision

Oil prices are off more than 1% this morning as choppy trade continues. There remain many factors influencing the oil price right now from a tight market to a diminishing growth outlook and a potential Iran nuclear deal. The prospects for the latter could become clearer over the course of this week although that has been suggested many times this year and yet here we are. We could see WTI remain choppy around $90 and Brent hover above $92 for a little while longer yet.

Gold pushed back further but faces a big test of support

Gold remains on the backfoot amid a resurgent dollar as 10-year Treasuries continue to creep back towards 3% and the two-year hovers around its June highs. Traders are naturally looking for clarity from Powell’s Jackson Hole appearance later this week and seem to think it’s going to come in the form of hawkish warnings. That has dampened sentiment in the yellow metal which has been further pushed back from its recent peak above $1,800 and now trades around the 61.8% retracement level from its July lows to August highs. A good test for overall sentiment in gold.

Bitcoin vulnerable ahead of Powell’s appearance

Bitcoin had a terrible end to last week, falling almost 10% before almost reaching $20,000 over the weekend. Sentiment was looking fragile going into the session, with rallies seeing weakening momentum on approach to $25,000 but a sudden sharp drop of that magnitude still came as quite the surprise. The fact that it’s struggled to recoup much of those losses doesn’t bode well either. The crypto community may well be hoping for a favour from Jerome Powell later this week, with bitcoin looking vulnerable around $20,000 once more.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil: Nigerian Government Set to Reopen 180,000bpd Trans Niger Pipeline

The Federal Government is set to re-open the Trans Niger Pipeline which has a production capacity of 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day. 

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Six months after the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) was shut down due to vandalism and oil theft, the Federal Government is set to re-open the pipeline which has a production capacity of 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day. 

Investors King learnt that Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) serves as part of Nigeria’s gas liquids evacuation infrastructure, which is vital for domestic power generation and the export of liquefied gas.

According to a statement released by the General Manager of National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Mr Bala Bunti on his official Twitter handle, the Trans Niger Pipeline will enhance Nigeria’s oil production capacity. 

The General Manager noted that NAPIMS has been in talks with the host communities along the pipeline to bolster security for the crucial oil infrastructure. 

“The NAPIMS leadership delegation under the  General Manager of Joint Venture operations, Engr Zakariya Budawara, had spent the last one week with the Bodo community in Gokana LGA of Rivers State where the pipeline is situated and runs through”. He said. 

Bunti further stated that the people of Bodo have pledged their commitment to ensure the security of the oil infrastructure in exchange for improved quality of life, job creation and capacity building. 

It will be recalled that the Trans Niger Pipeline was shut down by Shell Petroleum Development Company because of vandalization and oil theft. It has been moribund ever since because no crude has flown through it.

Investors King had earlier reported that Nigeria’s oil production has been characterised by theft, vandalism and sabotage which has led to a massive drop in production. 

Some major oil companies had announced a cease of operation because of vandalism and insecurity. 

In July 2022, the Managing Director and Country Chair for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, Osagie Okunbor said oil theft was one of the reasons that Nigeria could not meet its OPEC quota of 1.8 million barrels a day.

Similarly, in August 2022, for the first time in five years, Nigeria lost its crown as Africa’s largest oil producer to Angola.

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Energy

Clean Energy: Over 70,000 People to Benefit from Africa Mini-grids Program

Over 70,000 Nigerians will benefit from its recently launched Africa Mini-grids Program (AMP) instituted to enable access to clean energy

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The federal government of Nigeria has said over 70,000 Nigerians will benefit from its recently launched Africa Mini-grids Program (AMP) instituted to enable access to clean energy by increasing the financial viability, and promoting scaled-up commercial investment, in renewable energy mini-grids.

Africa Minigrids Program (AMP) is a project that connects investors with mini-grids stakeholders to help create access to clean energy for the 548 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who currently don’t have access to electricity, which is currently active in 18 African countries.

The Africa Mini-grids Program (AMP) was launched by the federal government through the Rural Electricfication Agency (REA), as the four-year project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria.

Speaking on the launch of the program, the Rural Electrification agency (REA) said, “The Africa Minigrids Program in Nigeria is designed as an enabler project of the REA’s Energising Agriculture Programme (EAP) which aims to advance one of REA’s strategic priorities of focusing on the unserved and underserved to increase economic opportunities through agriculture and productive sectors in rural communities across the country.”

Also commenting on the launch of the program, the UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria Mr. Mohamed Yahya said: “access to reliable, sustainable, affordable energy is a catalyst to socio-economic development, and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“By scaling up solutions such as renewable energy mini-grids, we will be able to close the energy access gap and unlock opportunities for people in Nigeria and across the region.”

While commending the collaborative spirit of the Agency’s partners and stakeholders that enabled the activation of the program, the Managing Director/CEO of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Engr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, disclosed that the Africa Minigrids Program will serve as another catalyst for improved access to sustainable energy and equitable and inclusive impact on livelihoods by unlocking agricultural value addition opportunities from electrification.

He added “this sectoral approach is in line with the Agency’s focus on programs to advance the electrification targets and broader social and economic development objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

In Africa, mini-grids have been identified as a key platform to address critical electrification shortages. Creating successful mini-grid ecosystems beyond pilot projects is now the focus of African governments facing severe shortages, especially for their off-grid populations.

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Markets

A Busy End to the Week

Stock markets are bouncing back on Friday, although I don’t think anyone is getting excited by the moves which pale in comparison to the losses that preceded them.

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

Stock markets are bouncing back on Friday, although I don’t think anyone is getting excited by the moves which pale in comparison to the losses that preceded them.

This looks like nothing more than a dead cat bounce after a steep decline over the last couple of weeks as investors have been forced to once again accept that interest rates are going to rise further and faster than hoped.

Double-digit eurozone inflation

Inflation in the eurozone hit 10% in September ahead of schedule, with markets expecting a jump to 9.7% from 9.1% in August. In normal circumstances that may have triggered a reaction but these are anything but normal. Markets are still pricing in a more than 70% chance of a 75 basis point rate hike from the ECB next month with an outside chance of 1%. The euro is slightly lower following the release which also showed core inflation rising a little higher than expected to 4.8%.

Sterling recovers as the UK is revised out of a potential recession

We’re seeing the third day of gains for the pound which has now recovered the bulk of the losses sustained after the “mini-budget” a week ago. This is not a sign of investors coming around the new Chancellor’s unfunded tax-cutting, but rather a reflection of the work done since to calm the market reaction. That includes the emergency intervention from the BoE, talk of measures to balance the cost of the tax cuts, reported discussions with the OBR and rumoured unrest within the Tory party. We’ll have to see what that amounts to and sterling could certainly react negatively again to inaction or the wrong action.

GDP data this morning brought some good news, although as far as positive updates go, this is surely towards the more insignificant end. The UK is not in recession after the second quarter GDP was revised up from -0.1% to +0.2%. While all positive revisions are welcome, the technical recession wasn’t really significant in the first place. The important thing was that the UK is struggling to grow and facing a probable deeper recession down the road and today’s revision doesn’t change that. ​

Disappointing Chinese surveys

China’s PMIs highlighted the widening gulf between the performance of state-owned firms versus their private competition. It goes without saying that being backed by the state in uncertain times like this carries certain advantages and that has been evident for some time.

Private firms have been more sensitive to Covid restrictions and have therefore been heavily hampered this year. Still, even with those state-backed benefits, the headline PMI was far from encouraging rising to 50.1 and barely in growth territory. With the non-manufacturing PMI also slipping from 52.6 to 50.6, it’s clear that the economy still faces enormous headwinds and the global economy stalling around it will only add to them.

BoJ ramps up bond purchases amid higher yields

The Bank of Japan ramped up bond purchases overnight as it continues to defend its yield curve control thresholds in volatile market conditions. Rising global yields have forced the central bank to repeatedly purchase JGBs in order to maintain its target. There has been a growing expectation that the BoJ could tweak its 0% target or widen the band it allows fluctuations between in order to ease the pressure on the currency but that’s not been forthcoming, with the MoF instead intervening in the markets for the first time since 1998. The intervention doom loop continues.

RBI rate hike and credit line

The Reserve Bank of India hiked the repo rate by 50bps to 5.9% on Friday, in what will likely be one of its final tightening measures in the fight against inflation. The decision was widely expected and followed shortly after by guidance to state-run refiners to reduce dollar buying in spot markets through the use of a $9 billion credit line. The strength of the dollar is posing a risk to countries around the world, as we’ve seen very clearly in recent weeks as mentioned above, and measures like this will seek to alleviate those pressures. Much more will be needed to make any significant difference though.

Oil edges higher into the weekend

Oil prices are rising again as we head into the weekend, with the focus now on the OPEC+ next week. There’s been plenty of rumours about how the alliance will respond to the deteriorating economic outlook and lower prices. A sizeable cut now looks on the cards, the question is whether it will be large enough to offset the demand destruction caused by the impending economic downturn. Not to mention how any cut would work considering the shortfall in output targets throughout this year.

Brent continues to trade around the March to August lows having traded below here over the last week amid recession fear in the markets. We’re now seeing some resistance around $88, perhaps a sign that traders don’t believe OPEC+ will deliver a large enough cut to make a significant difference.

Encouraging but maybe not sustainable

Gold is making gains for a fourth consecutive day after a difficult start to the week. While the recovery has been encouraging, it’s hard to imagine it building on it in any significant way as that would probably require rate expectations to have peaked and inflation perhaps to have as well. While that may be the case, it’s hard to imagine pressure easing from here which may maintain pressure on the yellow metal for a little longer yet.

Key resistance to the upside lies around $1,680 and $1,700, with $1,620 and $1,600 below being of interest.

A period of stability is what bitcoin needs

It’s been a very choppy week in bitcoin which has failed to make a sustainable run in either direction despite attempts at both. Perhaps we are seeing a floor forming a little shy of the early summer lows around $17,500, although that will very much depend on risk appetite not plummeting once more which it very much has the potential to do. I keep using the word resilience when discussing bitcoin and that has very much remained the case. It did also struggle to build on the rally earlier this week, even hold it into the end of the day, so perhaps a period of stability is what it needs.

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