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Risk Appetite Improves Amid More Balanced Fed Commentary

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

Equity markets are bouncing back on Tuesday after a risk-averse start to the week, buoyed perhaps by some promising Fed commentary on Monday.

It would appear the recent surge in bond yields hasn’t gone unnoticed at the central bank, to the extent that Fed officials are coming across as less hawkish in their views. Higher yields have been cited by various policymakers in what appears to be a sign that they are a little uneasy about how much influence recent commentary has had.

While the Fed has previously signalled that another rate hike is likely in the tightening cycle, the central bank is ultimately data-dependent and won’t want markets getting too carried away. It’s a tough balancing act and inflation data will be released on Thursday which should provide further clarity again after Friday’s mixed jobs report.

It is perhaps a little surprising that markets have bounced back as quickly and strongly as they have given the clear risk aversion we saw at the start of the week. Hamas attacks in Israel created uncertainty around the Middle East and investors will no doubt continue to monitor the situation very closely.

In light of the Fed commentary on Monday and how it’s contributed to the turnaround in the markets, there’ll be a lot of focus on further appearances today including Raphael Bostic, Christopher Waller, Neel Kashkari, and Mary Daly from the Fed and Christine Lagarde, President of the ECB.

IMF expects lower global growth and higher inflation next year

The IMF released its world economic outlook this morning and there wasn’t too many surprised in its forecasts. The global economy is expected to grow by 3% this year, unchanged from the July forecasts, and 2.9% next year, down 0.1% from previously. The US saw its growth forecast raised to 2.1% this year and 1.5% next, while China and the eurozone were less fortunate seeing cuts in both years. The UK saw its 2023 forecast revised higher by 0.1% to 0.5% but 2024 slashed from 1% to 0.6%.

It also revised its global inflation forecast to 5.8% next year from 5.2% in July, which may suggest it expects central banks to maintain a more restrictive policy for longer. All things considered, there are no major surprises in the forecasts and given the immense uncertainty and constantly changing landscape, I expect things will look very different again when the next set of forecasts are released in a few months.

Oil will remain sensitive to developments in Israel and Gaza

Oil prices will likely remain very sensitive to events in Israel and Gaza, not to mention how other countries in the Middle East respond to the attacks. Iran has been accused of assisting in the attack which it denied while supporting those that carried it out. With many other major oil-producing nations in the region, traders will be on high alert for any escalation and what the knock-on effects will be.

Brent crude has partially pared its gains at the start of the week but remains around 4% above Friday’s close so traders are clearly anxious. Price action will likely remain volatile over the coming days due to the risk of significant escalation. Brent remains more than 7% from the highs a couple of weeks ago and it will be interesting to see whether this gap closes further after the sharp correction that followed those highs.

Gold pares gains as risk appetite improves

Gold rallied strongly at the start of the week in risk-averse trade, with traders drawn to traditional safe-haven assets in times of geopolitical risk and heightened uncertainty. This followed a decent rally off the lows on Friday as well, taking the rebound to around 3%.

The question now is whether there’s more of a correction on the cards, especially if we continue to see more balanced commentary from Fed officials. It’s already run into some resistance – perhaps some profit-taking – just above $1,860 around the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement level – 20 September highs to October lows. If it does push higher, the 50% and 61.8% levels fall close to $1,880 and $1,900 which will make those levels interesting as well.

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.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria Pumps 236.2 Million Barrels in First Half of 2024

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markets energies crude oil

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

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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

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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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