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All Eyes on the ECB Forum as Central Bank Heads Join Panel Discussion

Oil prices are edging higher again today after once again sliding back toward the range lows of the last few months.




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

Equity markets are cautiously higher in Europe while the US is poised to open relatively flat as we await appearances from the heads of the Fed, ECB, BoE and BoJ.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell, ECB President Christine Lagarde, BoE Governor Andrew Bailey, and BoJ Governor Kazuo Ueda are due to take part in a panel discussion at the ECB Forum on Central Banking around the opening bell in the US and their comments could set the tone for the rest of the day.

Often in these situations, policymakers will stick to the script, preferring to leave big announcements for meetings and certain high-profile events. But with so many heads appearing at the same time, there’s every chance at least one says something that will either rattle or stimulate the markets.

To make this event more intrguing, they’re all contending with very similar issues and yet their individual situations are quite different, which could make the discussion all the more interesting.

The Fed is arguably closest to the end of its tightening cycle and will probably be the first to cut rates, the ECB appears to be making some progress but is also more pessimistic than many on how much more is needed, the BoE is in a mess, frankly, and the BoJ may simply watch as the whole thing passes it by.

It really is quite fascinating and it will be interesting to hear what each has to say about the current environment. Especially with the Fed and ECB until now adopting a more hawkish stance than most, the BoE coming across less hawkish but recently being forced to pivot back to larger hikes, and the BoJ pushing back against any hawkish expectation in the markets.

Oil prices hold in recent range

Oil prices are edging higher again today after once again sliding back toward the range lows of the last few months. What’s interesting is that, as we’ve seen previously, Brent crude failed to reach the previous low. It’s now the fourth time that’s happened in recent months and suggests we are potentially in a prolonged period of consolidation, with little sign yet of further downside momentum building.

That may of course change as the environment changes, which can happen quite rapidly these days, but for now it looks stuck in that lower range between $70-$80, perhaps even $72-$77.

Can gold hold above $1,900

Gold is slipping again this week after initially breaking below its recent range just over a week ago. It’s now falling to a new three-month low and appears to be closing in on $1,900 which could represent the next big test of support for the yellow metal.

Appetite for gold has dwindled as investors have increasingly come around to the reality that not only could more rate hikes be in the pipeline, but rate cuts this year are now highly unlikely. Inflation is proving even more stubborn than expected on the way down and that’s bad news for gold.

Is bitcoin going to take off from here?

Bitcoin has steadied between $30,000 and $31,000 in recent days after surging on the back of encouraging ETF filings. The SEC lawsuits against Binance and Coinbase have not been forgotten but they’ve certainly drifted into the background and been overtaken by far more promising news flow.

It would appear the cryptocurrency has good momentum once more and the community may well be wondering if this could be the kind of development that sees enthusiasm for cryptos surge again. It’s obviously been a fantastic year for bitcoin so far but the sell-off since mid-April was another reminder that it doesn’t come without major setbacks.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria Pumps 236.2 Million Barrels in First Half of 2024



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Nigeria pumped 236.2 million barrels of crude oil in the first half of 2024, according to the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).

This figure represents an increase from the 219.5 million barrels produced during the same period in 2023.

In January, Nigeria produced 44.2 million barrels of crude oil while February saw a slight dip to 38.3 million barrels, with March following closely at 38.1 million barrels.

April and May production stood at 38.4 million barrels and 38.8 million barrels, respectively. June’s output remained consistent at 38.3 million barrels, demonstrating a stable production trend.

Despite the overall increase compared to 2023, the 2024 production figures still fall short of the 302.42 million barrels produced in the same period in 2020.

This ongoing fluctuation underscores the challenges facing Nigeria’s oil sector, which has experienced varying production levels over recent years.

On a daily basis, Nigeria’s crude oil production showed some variability. In January, the average daily production peaked at 1.43 million barrels per day (mbpd), the highest within the six-month period.

February’s production dropped to 1.32 mbpd, with a further decrease to 1.23 mbpd in March. April saw a modest increase to 1.28 mbpd, which then fell again to 1.25 mbpd in May. June ended on a positive note with a slight rise to 1.28 mbpd.

The fluctuations in daily production rates have prompted government and industry leaders to address underlying issues.

Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), has highlighted the detrimental effects of oil theft and vandalism on Nigeria’s production capabilities.

Kyari emphasized that addressing these security challenges is critical to boosting production and attracting investment.

Kyari also noted recent efforts to combat illegal activities, including the removal of over 5,800 illegal connections from pipelines and dismantling more than 6,000 illegal refineries.

He expressed confidence that these measures, combined with ongoing policy reforms, would support Nigeria’s goal of increasing daily production to two million barrels.

The Nigerian government remains focused on stabilizing and enhancing oil production. With recent efforts showing promising results, there is cautious optimism that Nigeria will achieve its production targets.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Steady Amid Mixed Signals on Crude Demand



Crude oil

Oil prices remained stable on Thursday as investors navigated conflicting signals regarding crude demand.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, settled at $85.11 a barrel, edging up by 3 cents, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dipped by 3 cents to $82.82 a barrel.

The stability comes as the U.S. economy shows signs of slowing, with unemployment benefit applications rising more than expected.

Initial claims increased by 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 243,000 for the week ending July 1, prompting speculation that the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates sooner than anticipated. Lower rates could boost spending on oil, creating a bullish outlook for demand.

Fed officials suggested that improved inflation and a balanced labor market might lead to rate cuts, possibly by September.

“Healthy expectations of a Fed rate cut in the not-so-distant future will limit downside,” noted Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

However, rising jobless claims signal potential economic easing, which could dampen crude demand.

John Kilduff of Again Capital highlighted the impact of a slowing economy on oil consumption despite a significant drop in U.S. crude inventories last week.

Global factors also weighed on the market. China’s economic policies remain steady, though details are sparse, affecting investor sentiment in the world’s largest crude importer.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank maintained interest rates, citing persistent inflation.

An upcoming OPEC+ meeting in August is expected to assess market conditions without altering output policy, according to sources. This meeting will serve as a “pulse check” for market health.

Overall, oil prices are caught between economic concerns and hopes of a rate cut, maintaining a delicate balance.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Slide on China Demand Concerns, Brent Falls to $83.73



Crude Oil - Investors King

Oil prices declined on Tuesday for the third consecutive day on growing concerns over a slowing Chinese economy and its impact on global oil demand.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dipped by $1.12, or 1.3% at $83.73 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped $1.15, or 1.4%, to close at $80.76.

The dip in oil prices is largely attributed to disappointing economic data from China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Official figures revealed a 4.7% growth in China’s GDP for the April-June period, the slowest since the first quarter of 2023, and below the forecasted 5.1% growth expected in a Reuters poll.

This slowdown was compounded by a protracted property downturn and widespread job insecurity, which have dampened fuel demand and led many Chinese refineries to cut back on production.

“Weaker economic data continues to flow from China as continued government support programs have been disappointing,” said Dennis Kissler, Senior Vice President of Trading at BOK Financial. “Many of China’s refineries are cutting back on weaker fuel demand.”

Despite the bearish sentiment from China, there is a growing consensus among market participants that the U.S. Federal Reserve could begin cutting its key interest rates as soon as September.

This speculation has helped stem the decline in oil prices, as lower interest rates reduce the cost of borrowing, potentially boosting economic activity and oil demand.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell noted on Monday that the three U.S. inflation readings over the second quarter “add somewhat to confidence” that the pace of price increases is returning to the central bank’s target in a sustainable fashion.

This has led market participants to believe that a turn to interest rate cuts may be imminent.

Also, U.S. crude oil inventories provided a silver lining for the oil market. According to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures, U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels last week.

This was a much steeper drop than the 33,000 barrels decline that was anticipated, indicating strong domestic demand.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also weighed in, suggesting that while the global economy is set for modest growth over the next two years, risks remain.

The IMF noted cooling activity in the U.S., a bottoming-out in Europe, and stronger consumption and exports for China as key factors in the global economic landscape.

In summary, while oil prices are currently pressured by concerns over China’s economic slowdown, the potential for U.S. interest rate cuts and stronger domestic demand for crude are providing some support.

Market watchers will continue to monitor economic indicators and inventory levels closely as they gauge the future direction of oil prices.

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