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A Wild 24 Hours

Stock markets aren’t faring too badly on Thursday, which is arguably surprising considering how eventful the last 24 hours have been.

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

Stock markets aren’t faring too badly on Thursday, which is arguably surprising considering how eventful the last 24 hours have been.

It’s hard to know where to start on a day like today. While the Fed’s hawkish rate hike is probably the dominant driver in the broader markets, the dangerous nuclear threats from the Kremlin are causing quite a stir and then there’s the small matter of Japan’s first FX intervention in 24 years which has triggered some huge moves in the yen.

Fed resists the urge

The Fed’s decision to hike by 75 basis points, despite the obvious temptation to opt for a full percentage point, was probably sensible given the scale of tightening we’ve already seen this year. It now expects to go further with rates, with markets pricing in another 125 basis points this year and 25 next, although as we’ve seen throughout the year, that will probably change as we get more data. In much the same way that investors got too excited by the July inflation data, it may prove to be the case that the August setback isn’t as bad as feared. In such uncertain times, overreaction is becoming the norm.

Japan finally intervenes as BoJ stands firm

The Bank of Japan is standing firm on its policy stance, despite the widening differential with the US and others. That has put considerable pressure on the currency this year, so much so that the Ministry of Finance completed its first intervention in 24 years as the yen neared 146 against the dollar. The move on the back of that was quite something and it may not be the last. Interestingly, the level the pair reached was only a little shy of that in 1998 when it last intervened, prompting further speculation about whether this is the unofficial line in the sand. That has been denied but the rate check also occurred around 145 so perhaps there is more to it than just volatility. It will be interesting to see how keen traders are to put that to the test in future.

BoE continues with conservative approach

The Bank of England raised rates by 50 basis points today; a move some may view as a little conservative under the circumstances. Of course, that’s an accusation that’s been levelled against the MPC a lot this year as it proceeded with 25 basis point hikes while others were accelerating them. But without the benefit of new economic projections and details of tomorrow’s mini-budget, the decision is that much harder as was evident from the vote split. Perhaps the BoE will regret passing up another opportunity to ramp up the pace of tightening, with inflation now seen peaking just below 11% in October and remaining in double-digits for a few months after. But with the economy potentially already in recession, the Bank – like many others – finds itself between a rock and a hard place.

CBRT keeps cutting despite soaring inflation

One central bank that isn’t concerned about the consequences of its actions is the CBRT. It cut rates by another 100 basis points today despite inflation sitting above 80% which sent the lira to a new record low against the dollar. You have to wonder what it will take for the central bank to accept that its experiment – at the worst possible time – has failed but clearly, we’re not nearly at that point. More pain to come, it seems.

Franc slides as SNB hikes by 75 basis points

The Swiss National Bank hiked rates by 75 basis points today which was at the lower end of expectations. The franc tumbled in the aftermath of the decision, slipping more than 1.5% against the dollar, euro and pound. That’s despite Chair Thomas Jordan hinting at more to come including potentially at an unscheduled meeting, should conditions warrant such action. He also suggested that FX interventions could take place as necessary – which is obviously a hot topic today – while also stressing that the stronger franc has actually aided the fight against inflation.

Oil rises amid more nuclear threats

Oil prices are rising again on Thursday after giving up initial gains a day earlier. Nuclear threats are increasingly becoming the norm from the Kremlin but energy prices remain very sensitive to them. Still, crude isn’t trading too far from the six-month lows and another round of aggressive tightening around the world today won’t be helping, as economic fears continue to weigh on demand prospects. A move below those lows – around $86-88 in Brent – could signal much gloomier economic forecasts and frustrate OPEC+ which has stated it could announce further output cuts, even before the next scheduled meeting.

Choppy trading in gold as the dollar pares gains

Gold has been quite choppy since breaking below $1,680 last week. It has fluctuated largely between here and $1,650 since then and even briefly moved above in the aftermath of the Fed decision. Even today, it slipped back towards the lower end of that range but has since recovered back to the upper end as the dollar has erased gains. Perhaps that’s a sign of a floor appearing, with the market now having priced in a large amount of tightening. I’m not convinced at this stage as the break of $1,680 appeared very significant but time will tell. A pull back in the dollar could certainly facilitate such a recovery in gold.

Bitcoin seeing strong support

Bitcoin is managing small gains after slipping earlier in the day. Once more, it slipped back towards $18,000 where it ran into some support. With the summer lows around $17,500 just a little below again, this is a huge test for bitcoin and cryptos overall. If risk appetite doesn’t improve, that support is at risk of breaking, with further support then potentially appearing around $16,000.

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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