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Wind Out of the Sails

UK consumer spending remains subdued, with BRC reporting a 4.1% annual increase

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

Stock markets are making small losses on Tuesday, while US futures are relatively unchanged ahead of the open.

The recovery rally has lost momentum in recent sessions which is understandable after that jobs report. That’s not to say optimism can’t and won’t return but that wages component was a huge body blow. Investors are a little winded and it may just take a little time to get their breath back.

The PPI data on Friday could offer a helping hand on that front but even then, it will be hard to ease the concern Fed policymakers will undoubtedly have about the pace of wage growth, consumer resilience and the still large savings buffer. None of this aligns with a swift and relatively pain-free return to 2% inflation.

RBA maintains flexible approach

The key takeaway from the RBA meeting today was flexibility. There is no pre-set path and while policymakers expect to need to raise rates at upcoming meetings, the data will dictate if so and by how much. That doesn’t help investors gage exactly what we can expect from the central bank but in such uncertain times, that makes a lot of sense. And you can see that reflected in the interest rate probabilities for the first quarter of next year. As it stands, no change or 25 basis points in February is a coin toss, while 3.35% in March (25bps above the current rate) is seen as being 50% likely with 25bps either side around 25% each. Clearly the RBAs communication strategy is going to plan.

Households feeling the squeeze this festive season

It will come as a surprise to no one that UK consumer spending remains subdued, with BRC reporting a 4.1% annual increase. With inflation running at 11.1%, spending is falling well behind, as is the case with wages, which suggests people are buying less and being more selective with what they do this festive season. Again, what can you expect when the economy is probably already in recession amid a terrible cost-of-living crisis that hurts those worst off most. The road to recovery for the UK is going to be long and painful, it seems.

The only guarantee for oil markets

It’s been a volatile start to the week in oil markets, continuing in much the same way we ended last, with traders still working through the announcements from the G7 and OPEC+, as well as the latest Covid moves from China. In many way, none of the above improve visibility in the crude oil space; they arguably actually make the outlook more uncertain.

But the intial response to the above has seemingly been negative for crude prices, with the loosening of Chinese Covid curbs not enough to offset the $60 price cap and unchanged OPEC+ decision. The cap is probably viewed as a business as usual for now, with Russia reportedly selling below these levels already and improving its ability to get around the sanctions. Which means output remains broadly steady.

The move from OPEC+ was probably driven by the lack of visibility on China and Russia but as the group has warned in the past, should prices fall too far and the market become imbalanced, it won’t wait until the next scheduled meeting to respond. It seems that the only thing guaranteed in the oil market for now is volatility.

Gold paring losses

The dollar recovered strongly on Monday as trade became increasingly risk-averse, hitting gold and forcing it back below $1,800 where it briefly traded above. It’s attempting to pare those losses today, up around half a percent on the day but it may struggle in the short-term. It’s been an incredible recovery until now but Friday was a massive setback. We now have to wait for PPI on Friday for some good news, with Fed policymakers in the blackout period ahead of the final meeting of the year, next week.

Stabilising?

The risk-reversal trade on Monday took the wind out of bitcoins sails, not that it would have taken much in the circumstances. It’s trading back around $17,000 where it has spent most of the last week, which the community will probably be relieved about. Anticipating what’s going to come next for cryptos feels incredibly difficult and dependent on the ongoing fallout from FTX. To reiterate what I’ve said recently, silence is bliss.

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

Crude Oil

Crude Oil Dips Slightly on Friday Amid Demand Concerns

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Crude oil gains

On Friday, global crude oil prices experienced a slight dip, primarily attributed to mounting concerns surrounding demand despite signs of a tightening market.

Brent crude prices edged lower, nearing $83 per barrel, following a recent uptick of 1.6% over two consecutive sessions.

Similarly, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hovered around $78 per barrel. Despite the dip, market indicators suggest a relatively robust market, with US crude inventories expanding less than anticipated in the previous week.

The oil market finds itself amidst a complex dynamic, balancing optimistic signals such as reduced OPEC+ output and heightened tensions in the Middle East against persistent worries about Chinese demand, particularly as the nation grapples with economic challenges.

This delicate equilibrium has led oil futures to mirror the oscillations of broader stock markets, underscoring the interconnectedness of global economic factors.

Analysts, including Michael Tran from RBC Capital Markets LLC, highlight the recurring theme of robust oil demand juxtaposed with concerning Chinese macroeconomic data, contributing to market volatility.

Also, recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants have added a risk premium to oil futures, reflecting geopolitical uncertainties beyond immediate demand-supply dynamics.

While US crude inventories saw a slight rise, they remain below seasonal averages, indicating some resilience in the market despite prevailing uncertainties.

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Commodities

Nigeria’s Petrol Imports Decrease by 1 Billion Litres Following Subsidy Removal

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Ship Aveon Offshore

Nigeria’s monthly petrol imports declined by approximately 1 billion litres following the fuel subsidy removal by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported.

The NBS findings illuminate the tangible effects of this policy shift on the country’s petroleum importation dynamics.

Prior to the subsidy removal, the NBS report delineated a consistent pattern of petrol imports with quantities ranging between 1.91 billion and 2.29 billion litres from March to May 2023.

However, in the aftermath of Tinubu’s decision, the nation witnessed a notable downturn in petrol imports, with figures plummeting to 1.64 billion litres in June, the first post-subsidy month.

This downward trend persisted in subsequent months, with July recording a further reduction to 1.45 billion litres and August witnessing a significant decline to 1.09 billion litres.

August’s import figures represented a decrease of over 1 billion litres compared to the corresponding period in 2022.

The NBS report underscores the pivotal role of the subsidy removal in reshaping Nigeria’s petrol import landscape with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company emerging as the sole importer of fuel in the current scenario.

Despite higher petrol imports in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year, the decline in June, July, and August underscores the profound impact of subsidy removal on import dynamics, affirming the NBS’s latest findings.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Oil Rig Count Soars From 11 to 30, Says NUPRC CEO

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Nigeria oil rig

The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, has announced a surge in the country’s oil rig count.

Komolafe disclosed that Nigeria’s oil rigs have escalated from 11 to 30, a substantial increase since 2011.

Attributing this surge to concerted efforts by NUPRC and other governmental stakeholders, Komolafe highlighted the importance of instilling confidence, certainty, and predictability in the oil and gas industry.

He explained the pivotal role of the recently implemented Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), which has spurred significant capital expenditure amounting to billions of dollars over the past two and a half years.

Speaking in Lagos after receiving The Sun Award, Komolafe underscored the effective discharge of NUPRC’s statutory mandate, which has contributed to the success stories witnessed in the sector.

The surge in Nigeria’s oil rig count signifies a tangible measure of vibrant activities within the upstream oil and gas sector, reflecting increased drilling activity and heightened industry dynamism.

Also, Komolafe noted that NUPRC has issued over 17 regulations aimed at enhancing certainty and predictability in industry operations, aligning with the objectives outlined in the PIA.

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