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U.S. Stocks Retreat as Metals Prices Gain, Dollar Drop

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U.S. stocks fell, as commodities from copper to gold advanced amid a slide in the dollar that was fueled by speculation global growth may not be strong enough to warrant further central-bank tightening. Crude erased an advance to fall back below $32 a barrel.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index retreated after rising 0.8 percent. Disappointing results at retailers dragged consumer shares lower. Crude slid, while the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index headed for its biggest two-day loss since 2009. Emerging-market equities rallied almost 3 percent. The pound fell after Ian McCafferty, the Bank of England’s only policy dissenter over the past six months, dropped his call for higher interest rates.

The dollar’s retreat was sparked by data showing the U.S. services sector grew at the slowest pace in nearly two years, underscoring the vulnerability of the American economy to unsteadiness abroad. The report tipped the fixed-income market’s balance closer toward zero rate hikes by the Federal Reserve this year, amid prospects central banks from Asia to Europe will act to quell the turmoil that’s roiled markets in 2016. The greenback’s drop helped prop up the price of gold and industrial metals.

“The lower the dollar, the better it is for commodities, so we are seeing a little bounce back,” Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at National Alliance Capital Markets in New York said by phone. “The number of Fed rate raises has continued to be reduced by the market place, probably a little bit too much. But yes the Fed will cut back, we will not do four interest rates raises this year.”

Stocks

The S&P 500 fell 0.3 percent to 1,907 at 2:51 p.m. in New York. The gauge advanced yesterday for the first time this month, erasing a drop of more than 1 percent as oil’s surge topped 7 percent. The benchmark equity gauge is down more than 6 percent so far in 2016.

Materials shares advanced 2.2 percent, as Freeport McMoRan Inc. surged with copper. Energy producers fell 0.2 percent after earlier gaining. Shares in consumer-discretionary stocks fell. Kohl’s Corp. sank 19 percent after slow sales squeezed profits. Ralph Lauren Corp. plunged after the company cut its annual forecast.

Economic data did little to alter perceptions on the strength of the world’s largest economy. Initial jobless claims last week rose more than expected, Labor Department data showed, while factory orders declined at a faster pace in December than the previous month.

“The question is what can we hang our hat on right now? It’s not earnings, it’s not what central banks are able to do, and it’s certainly not what we’re seeing with economic data,” Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at JonesTrading Institutional Services LLC in New York, said by phone. “Central banks continue to take their targets down on growth and inflation and part of today’s frustration came with the whippiness of crude.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.2 percent, after rising as much as 1.1 percent. Daimler AG led automakers to among the biggest declines out of the 19 industry groups. Gauges of energy shares and commodity producers jumped more than 3.3 percent, for the best performances.

Credit Suisse Group AG slumped 11 percent to its lowest price since August 1992 after posting a quarterly loss as it wrote off goodwill and set aside provisions for litigation, while its two investment-banking divisions slumped.

Emerging Markets

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 2.6 percent, with more than five stocks advancing for every one that declined. Material and energy producers led gains among 10 industry groups, climbing almost 5 percent.

Russia’s Micex Index jumped 2.4 percent, the most in a week, and shares in Dubai rallied 2.8 percent. Equity benchmarks in South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Africa rose at least 0.8 percent.

Emerging-market currencies headed for a two-day advance. Malaysia’s ringgit and South Korea’s won strengthened at least 1.4 percent against the dollar, sending a gauge of developing-nation exchange rates toward a one-month high. Turkey’s lira erased this year’s losses.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a gauge of the greenback against 10 major peers, retreated 0.6 percent after sliding as much as 1.9 percent last session.

The greenback fell against all of its 16 major peers except Mexico’s peso and the British pound, which was weighed down by the Bank of England ’s unanimous vote to keep interest rates unchanged. Officials signaled borrowing costs will stay low as they cut their growth and inflation forecasts.

The dollar slipped 1 percent to 116.67 yen, after erasing all its gains since the BOJ’s surprise Jan. 29 move. The greenback weakened 1 percent to $1.1214 per euro, and has now fallen every day this week.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Commodity Index, which measures returns on raw materials, fell 0.2 percent after earlier rallying as much as 1.2 percent. The gauge advanced 1.9 percent yesterday.

Oil sank after rallying earlier. West Texas Intermediate fell 1.9 percent to $31.67 a barrel in New York, after jumping as much as 4.1 percent. Some OPEC member states and non-members have been talking about an extraordinary meeting on production.

Statoil ASA, Norway’s biggest oil company, deepened investment cuts and offered to pay dividends in stock. Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it depleted its oil and gas reserves much faster than it replenished them with new resources in 2015, its worst performance since 12 years ago.

Industrial metals benefited from a drop in the U.S. currency that makes dollar-denominated commodities cheaper for investors. Aluminum for delivery in three months climbed to the highest this year on the LME, and lead advanced for the eighth day in a row, the longest run since June 2014.

Spot gold climbed for a fifth day, the longest run of gains in five months, as expectations of continued low U.S. interest rates seeped through the market.

Bonds

The Treasury 10-year note yield slipped two basis points to 1.87 percent. The yield dropped to 1.79 percent Wednesday, the lowest level since February 2015. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Pacific Investment Management Co. say bonds are poised to fall and traders aren’t prepared for how far the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

Spanish and Italian government bonds led declines across the euro region as investors questioned the level of additional stimulus they can expect from the European Central Bank.

Bloomberg

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Markets

Top Five US Oil and Gas Firms Lost $307bn in Market Value Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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Crude oil

Market Value of US Five Largest Companies Decline by $307bn in 2020

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the oil and gas industry was faced with slumping prices. However, with a record collapse in oil demand amid the coronavirus lockdown, the COVID-19 crisis has further shaken the market, causing massive revenue and market cap drops for even the largest oil and gas companies.

According to data presented by StockApps.com, the top five oil and gas companies in the United States lost over $307bn in market capitalization year-over-year, a 45% plunge amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Market Cap Still Below March Levels

Global macroeconomic concerns such as the US-China trade war and the oil overproduction set significant price drops even before the coronavirus outbreak. A standoff between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the first months of 2020 sent prices even lower.

After global oil demand plunged in March, Saudi Arabia proposed a cut in oil production, but Russia refused to cooperate. Saudi Arabia responded by increasing production and cutting prices. Shortly Russia followed by doing the same, causing an over 60% drop in crude oil prices at the beginning of 2020. Although OPEC and Russia agreed to cut oil production levels to stabilize prices a few weeks later, the COVID-19 crisis already hit. Statistics show that oil prices dropped over 40% since the beginning of 2020 and are hovering around $40 a barrel.

Such a sharp fall in oil price triggered a growing wave of oil and gas bankruptcies in the United States and caused a substantial financial hit to the largest gas producers.

In September 2019, the combined market capitalization of the five largest oil and gas producers in the United States amounted to $674.2bn, revealed the Yahoo Finance data. After the Black Monday crash in March, this figure plunged by 45% to $373bn. The following months brought a slight recovery, with the combined market capitalization of the top five US gas producers rising to over $461bn in June.

However, the fourth quarter of the year witnessed a negative trend, with the combined value of their shares falling to $367bn at the beginning of this week, $6.2bn below March levels.

Exon Mobil`s Market Cap Halved in 2020, Almost $155bn Lost YoY

In August, Exxon Mobil Corporation, once the largest publicly traded company globally, was dropped from the Dow Jones industrial average after 92 years. As the largest oil and gas producer in the United States, the company has suffered the most significant market cap drop in 2020.

Statistics indicate the combined value of Exxon Mobil`s shares plunged by 52% year-over-year, falling from almost $300bn in September 2019 to $144bn at the beginning of this week.

Phillips 66, the fourth largest gas producer in the United States by market capitalization, witnessed the second-largest drop in 2020. Statistics show the company`s market cap dipped by 49.6% year-over-year, landing at $22.9bn this week.

The Yahoo Finance data revealed that EOG Resources lost over $21bn in market cap since September 2019, the third-largest drop among the top five US gas producers.

Conoco Phillips witnessed a 42% drop in market capitalization amid the COVID-19 crisis, with the combined value of shares plunging by almost $30bn year-over-year.

Statistics show Chevron witnessed the smallest market cap drop among the top five companies. At the beginning of this week, the combined value of shares of the second-largest US gas producer stood at $141.5bn, a 36.9% plunge year-over-year.

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Gold Hit 26.8% ROI YTD, the Highest Increase in Value Among Top Assets

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Gold Delivers 26.8% Return on Investment Year-t-Date

As the world’s earliest form of currency, gold has long been considered a reliable store of value. Unlike banknotes, stock, or other assets, the precious metal managed to preserve the investors’ wealth throughout the years, especially in times of turmoil in the financial markets.

According to data presented by AksjeBloggen, gold hit a 26.8% YTD return on investment, the highest increase in value among top assets.

Gold Return Rate 8.5% Higher than in 2019

Investors tend to focus on gold in times of market volatility, considering it to be a ‘safe haven’ in crises like the coronavirus. In 2019, the value of gold increased by 18.3%, revealed the Blackrock data. The precious metal continued the impressive performance in 2020 with a 26.8% YTD return, 8.5% more than in 2019.

Statistics show that last year, the S&P 500 index increased in value by 31% but was outperformed by Nasdaq, which grew by 35.2%. The MSCI Europe index rose by 26.1% in 2019. China A-shares followed with a 22.3% ROI.

However, the COVID-19 crisis had a massive impact on popular assets, causing a sharp fall in their values during the first half of 2020. The Blackrock data revealed the Nasdaq YTD return hit 23.9%, 11.3% below the 2019 performance. China A stocks reached 10% ROI YTD, much under the 22.3% return in 2019.

Statistics show the S&P 500 index had an 8.4% value increase in the nine months of 2020, almost four times less than in 2019. MSCI Emerging Market Index reached a 4.9% value increase in the same period, compared to 13% in 2019.

The Blackrock data show that crude oil, FTSE 100, and MSCI Europe index witnessed the most significant drop in the nine months of 2020, with their values falling by 34.6%, 22.4%, and 11.5%, respectively.

Global Demand for Investment Gold Surged by 100% YoY

Although many investors value gold as an important portfolio asset, the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in global demand for the precious metal.

The World Gold Council data showed the global demand for investment gold increased significantly since the beginning of the year.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, it amounted to 279.2 metric tons. By the end of March, this figure jumped by more than 93% to 539.6 metric tons. The increasing trend continued in the second quarter of the year, with global demand for investment gold hitting 582.9 metric tons, an almost 100% jump year-over-year.

Statistics indicate the global demand for gold for investment purposes hit a record-breaking 1,152 metric tons in the first half of 2020, the highest figure so far.

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Oil Prices News: Oil Gains Following Drops in US Crude Inventories

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Oil Prices Gain Following Drops in US Crude Inventories and OPEC High Compliance Level

Global oil prices extended their 2 percent gains on Thursday after data showed U.S crude oil inventories declined last week.

The price of Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is measured, gained 0.2 percent or 7 cents to $43.39 a barrel as at 12:10 pm Nigerian time. While the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude appreciated by 8 cent or 0.2 percent to $41.12 barrels.

Oil prices extended their three days gain after the American Petroleum Institute said the U.S crude inventories declined by 5.4 million barrels in the week ended October 9.

The report released after the market closed on Wednesday revealed that distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, declined by 3.9 million barrels. Those stated drawdowns almost double analysts’ projections for the week.

Much of the fall is due to the effects of Hurricane Delta shuttering U.S. production in the Gulf of Mexico, and as such, will be a transitory effect,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

“Therefore, I am not getting too excited that a turn of direction is upon markets, although both contracts are approaching important technical resistance regions.”

Also, the report that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, referred to as OPEC+ attained 102 percent compliance level with their oil production cuts agreements bolstered global oil outlook. Suggesting that demands for the commodity are likely not growing and could drag down prices in few weeks, especially when one factor in the reopening of Libya’s Sharara oil field, workers returning to operation in Norway and the Gulf of Mexico.

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