Oil Price – Traders Are No Longer In Panic Mode To Find Buyers For Unwanted Oil As Demand Ticks Up


Oil markets are returning to relative normality, the once yawning gap between the price of an actual physical barrel of oil and futures prices has narrowed sharply.

At its worst in April, a barrel of oil in the North Sea cost $10 less than the price on a Brent oil futures contract, a decade-high gap for the world’s benchmark oil price, according to S&P Global Platts. Now, the gap has shrunk to less than $2 a barrel as the oil market rebalances and traders are no longer in panic mode to find buyers for unwanted crude.

“A few weeks ago, we had armageddon pricing when nobody wanted physical barrels apart from for storage,” said Richard Fullarton, chief investment officer at hedge fund Matilda Capital Management Ltd.

The price of physical oil slipped far below futures prices last month when oil storage ran short and the cost to store crude jumped. The two prices tend to collide ahead of the expiration of futures contracts.

The return to health in the physical oil markets reflects several factors. Oil producers have made large, coordinated cuts in production. China’s economy has restarted and lockdowns in Europe and the U.S. eased, creating an uptick in demand. And a shortage of oil storage, which at one point drove U.S. oil futures prices into negative territory, appears to have peaked.

Oil prices, both physical and futures, have almost doubled since their April nadir, though they slipped Friday after China abandoned its yearly gross domestic product growth target.

Front-month futures for Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell 2.6% to $35.13 a barrel Friday, having rebounded from their $19.33-a-barrel low on April 21. Its physical counterpart was priced at $34.13 a barrel late Thursday.

Physical oil tends to be traded by major commodities trading houses, oil companies and refiners who have the financial heft and logistical capacity to store large amounts of oil in case they need to wait for a better pricing environment.

One of the largest independent traders, Trafigura Group Pte., has been on a buying spree. The Swiss company snapped up at least 15 cargoes of North Sea crude—amounting to 9 million barrels of oil—between May 13 and 21, according to S&P Global Platts. Trafigura declined to comment on its bet on North Sea crude, which was reported by Reuters.

Smaller traders also buy physical barrels of oil or refined products, for instance by filling fleets of tanker trucks with gasoline, selling it on to gas stations when prices move higher.

Overall, the gap between physical oil and futures was more pronounced in international markets than the U.S. As a largely seaborne crude, Brent producers could rush to store oil on massive tanker ships. Sellers of the largely landlocked U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, had to pay buyers to take it off their hands when futures prices turned negative on April 20.

Unlike Brent oil futures, which are all cash settled, some WTI futures contracts require their owners to take delivery of physical oil when the contracts settle. Even so, physical WTI at the end of March was $6 less a barrel than the futures market.

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That gap is now close to gone. The storage conditions were feared to be most acute in Cushing, Okla., where WTI contracts are settled.

“We didn’t see tank tops at Cushing. Instead we’ve seen phenomenal levels of shut-ins,” said Edward Marshall, a commodities trader at Global Risk Management, referring to the act of oil producers turning off wells to choke supply.

A pickup in refiner demand to supply Americans getting back on the road has helped WTI’s recovery. Pipeline flows from Cushing to Midwestern refiners are 400,000 barrels a day higher than they were in early April, according to commodity-market information provider Genscape.




Oil Prices Boosted By Saudi Arabia Pledge To Deepen Output Cut

Oil futures rose on Tuesday, boosted by an unexpected commitment from Saudi Arabia to deepen production cuts in June in a bid to help drain the glut in the global market that has built up as the coronavirus pandemic crushed fuel demand.

Brent crude (LCOc1) futures advanced 0.5%, or 15 cents, to $29.78 at 0500 GMT, after hitting an intraday high of $30.11 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude (CLc1) futures were up 1%, or 26 cents, at $24.40 after touching an intraday high of $24.77.

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Saudi Arabia said overnight it would cut production by a further 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, slashing its total production to 7.5 million bpd, down nearly 40% from April.

“This reduction in production provided excellent optics encouraging other OPEC+ members to comply and even offer additional voluntary cuts, which should quicken the global oil markets’ rebalancing act,” Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp, said in a note. OPEC+ is a group comprised of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers including Russia.

The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait committed to cut production by another 180,000 bpd in total. Kazakhstan has also ordered producers in large and mid-sized oil fields including Tengiz and Kashagan to cut oil output by around 22% in the May to June period.

Still, the moves to deepen cuts raised questions for some about why the further cuts were needed.

“It was so sudden and so significant, it was just seen as: ‘Is this a proactive policy or just a reaction to weak demand?'” said Vivek Dhar, Commonwealth Bank’s mining and energy economist.

The cuts, combined with the world’s biggest economies relaxing coronavirus restrictions and stoking a gradual recovery in fuel demand, are expected to ease pressure on crude storage capacity.

However, in the wake of new outbreaks of the coronavirus, including in China and South Korea, the market is wary of a second wave of COVID-19 cases spurring renewed lockdowns.

Data showing China’s April factory prices fell at the sharpest rate in four years also added to investor jitters as it revealed weak industrial demand.

“On the demand side there’s probably a view that the worst may be behind us, in terms of the peak damage point. If we do see a second wave, that would hurt demand and hurt pricing,” said Commonwealth Bank’s Dhar.

Inventory data this week will be key to extending the recent rally in oil prices, analysts said.

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U.S. crude inventories likely rose by about 4.3 million barrels in the week to May 8, a preliminary Reuters poll showed, ahead of reports from the American Petroleum Institute industry group on Tuesday and the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.


Oil Glut Swells Off Asian Trading Hub On Global Storage Scramble

A narrow waterway off Singapore has become even more congested as oil-laden tankers wait out a slump in global fuel consumption that’s crimped demand and boosted the use of ships to store cargoes.

About 60 clean fuel tankers are currently anchored along the busy strait, up from the usual 30-40 ships, according to Rahul Kapoor, head of commodity analytics and research at IHS Markit. Some vessels are being used to hoard fuel at sea as onshore tanks fill up. Others are probably parked, waiting to be redirected to any willing buyer across Asia and the world as the coronavirus pummels economies worldwide.

Ships filled with gasoline to jet fuel are moving from major refinery hubs such as South Korea and China due to a crash in domestic demand and swelling stockpiles. These tankers are finding their way to the Singapore Strait, where the glut is being compounded by offloading delays at the city state. Vessels currently have to wait about two weeks to discharge cargoes in Singapore, compared to the typical 4-5 days, according to shipbrokers and traders, leaving ships stranded in local waters.

Storage options are dwindling globally as onshore tanks rapidly fill to capacity, prompting traders, refiners and infrastructure companies to seek alternatives such as pipelines and ships. Bloomberg earlier reported that those who managed to snag some highly-coveted tanks in Singapore were being charged much higher rates, even as the nation stopped leasing out space to new customers.

Major fuel-exporting countries are facing difficulties finding homes for their surplus barrels,” said Sri Paravaikkarasu, Asia oil head at industry consultant FGE. In Singapore, crude processing rates at refineries have probably dropped to around 60% of capacity, and may drop further to as low as 50% during the second quarter, she said.

The onshore storage squeeze is being seen across the region. In India, tanks were 95% full as of last week as refiners scrambled to find space to hold their excess fuel, even turning to pump stations and depots. In Singapore, fuel stockpiles rose to a four-year high in mid-April.

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Utilizing tankers has become the next best option, with analytics firm Vortexa estimating floating crude oil storage in Asia at a four-year high. Taking into account the waters off Singapore as well as Malaysia, data intelligence firm Kpler saw a 45% month-on-month increase in the volume of clean fuels — comprising naphtha, gasoline, jet fuel and diesel — stored on ships to 6.64 million barrels as of April 23.

Across the world, freight rates for both clean as well as dirty tankers have surged dramatically along with rising demand for floating storage. Also, shippers are using a strategy known as slow steaming, where they deliberately reduce the speed of tankers to increase the shipments’ transit time while awaiting the emergence of buying interest from customers, or save on fuel.



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Oil Collapse Continues As Brent Plunges More Than 15%

Oil prices continued to plummet Wednesday as concerns over limp demand and limited remaining storage capacity lingered.

In the afternoon of Asian trading hours, international benchmark Brent crude futures dropped 15.57% to $16.32 per barrel. Meanwhile, the June contract for West Texas Intermediate shed all of its earlier gains as it dropped 6.66% to $10.80 per barrel. The July contract for WTI also declined and was last trading below $19 per barrel.

Per Magnus Nysveen, senior partner and head of analysis at Rystad Energy, warned that the situation in the oil markets is “going to be worse.”

“The world is running out of place to store the oil,” Nysveen told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday, adding that storage acts as “a kind of buffer.”

“When the supply and demand balance is positive or negative, then you can build or draw from storage,” he said. “But when the storage gets full, then there is no buffer for this very strong imbalance that we’re seeing.”

Pictet Wealth Management’s Jean-Pierre Durante agreed with Nysveen’s assessment of the situation, commenting in a Wednesday note that the “world is overflowing in oil” despite a recent decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies — known collectively as OPEC+ — to cut oil supply.

“World storage capacity will rapidly reach saturation point,” said Durante, who is head of applied research at Pictet Wealth Management.

Global demand for oil has fallen dramatically, with major economies worldwide effectively frozen as a result of coronavirus-induced lockdowns imposed by authorities scrambling to contain the spread of the disease.

Wednesday’s moves in oil followed recent sharp declines in the sector. The May contract for WTI, which expired Tuesday, plunged below zero for the first in history before clawing its way back into positive territory. The June WTI contract plunged more than 40% on Tuesday while international benchmark Brent dropped from levels above $24 per barrel.


U.S. Crude Futures Turn Positive After Historic Plunge

U.S. oil prices hobbled back into positive territory on Tuesday after sinking below $0 for the first time ever, but international benchmark Brent dipped as the global coronavirus crisis severely reduces demand for crude.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for May delivery (CLc1) was up $38.99 in thin trade at $1.36 a barrel by 0622 GMT after settling down at a discount of $37.63 a barrel in the previous session. The May contract expires on Tuesday and the more-active June contract rose 94 cents, or 4.6%, to $21.37 a barrel.

Global benchmark Brent crude for June delivery was down 48 cents, or 1.9%, at $25.09 per barrel.

“Demand destruction from COVID-19 will see a slower than expected reopening of the U.S. economy,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at broker OANDA, predicting a weak period for oil prices. “The WTI crude June contract was able to hold the $20 a barrel level and is seeing a modest gain following the painful rollover of the May contract.”

Oil prices have skidded as travel restrictions and lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus curbed global fuel use, with demand down 30% worldwide. That has resulted in growing crude stockpiles with storage space becoming harder to find.

The main U.S. storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract, is now expected to be full within a matter of weeks.

Following the collapse in oil prices, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that his administration was considering halting Saudi crude oil imports as a way to help the U.S. drilling industry.

Today it’s pretty clear that a major issue in the market is a glut in the United States and lack of storage capacity,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist, CMC Markets in Sydney.

Faced with the situation, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies including Russia, a grouping known as OPEC+, have agreed to cut output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd). But that will not take place before May, and the size of the cut is not viewed as big enough to restore market balance.

Supply and inventories are expected to tighten in the second half of the year, while “severe storage distress is likely to drive wild price realizations,” in the next 4-6 weeks, Citi Research said in a note.

Meanwhile, U.S. crude inventories were expected to rise by about 16.1 million barrels in the week to April 17 after posting the biggest one-week build in history, according to five analysts polled by Reuters. Analysts expected gasoline stocks to rise by 3.7 million barrels last week.

The American Petroleum Institute is set to release its data at 4:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) on Tuesday, and the weekly report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.





Oil Falls More Than 10% To Lows Not Seen Since 1999

Crude oil futures fell on Monday, with U.S. futures touching levels not seen since 1999, extending weakness on the back of sliding demand and concerns that U.S. storage facilities will soon fill to the brim amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The oil market has been under pressure due to a spate of reports on weak fuel consumption and grim forecasts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the International Energy Agency.


The volume of oil held in U.S. storage, especially at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract, is rising as refiners throttle back activity due to slumping demand.

The front-month May WTI contract (CLc1) was down $2.62, or 14%, to $15.65 a barrel by 0142GMT. At one point, the contract had fallen as much as 21% to hit a low of $14.47 a barrel, the lowest since March 1999.

That contract is expiring on Tuesday, and the June contract , which is becoming more actively traded, fell $1.28, or 5.1%, to $23.75 a barrel. Brent (LCOc1) was also weaker, down 21 cents, or 0.8%, to $27.87 a barrel.

The plunge in crude oil prices reflects a glut at the main U.S. storage facilities at Cushing and a big drop in demand, said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.

“It hasn’t reach capacity but the fear is that it will,” he said, adding that once the maximum capacity is reached, producers will have to cut output.

Production cuts from OPEC and its allies such as Russia will also kick from May. The group has agreed to reduce output by 9.7 million bpd to stem a growing supply glut after stay-at-home orders and business furloughs to curb the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 164,000 people worldwide sap fuel demand.

The oil industry has been swiftly reducing production in the face of an estimated 30% decline in fuel demand worldwide. Saudi Arabian officials have forecast that total global supply cuts from oil producers could amount to nearly 20 million bpd, but that includes voluntary cuts from nations like the United States and Canada, which cannot simply turn on or off production in the same way as most OPEC nations.

Numerous majors have announced supply reductions, including Chevron Corp (NYSE:CVX), BP plc (LON:BP) and Total SA (PA:TOTF). But economic growth is sagging, and physical crude markets and an estimated record 160 million barrels of oil stored onboard ships suggest prices will keep falling.

“There’s still some concern that the 10 million barrels per day cut won’t be enough to offset demand destruction so the outlook for oil prices remain subdued,” McCarthy said.

North American exploration and production companies have cut their budgets by roughly 36% on a year-over-year basis, according to a Sunday note from James West, analyst at Evercore ISI, while international companies have cut budgets by 23%.






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Oil Rises As Markets Eye OPEC, Russia Meeting On Output Cuts

Oil rebounded on Wednesday after a two-day fall, lifted by hopes that a meeting between OPEC members and allied producers on Thursday will trigger output cuts to shore up prices that have crumbled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent crude was up by 21 cents, or 0.8%, at $32.08 per barrel by 0639 GMT after falling 3.6% on Tuesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 82 cents, or 3.8%, to $24.45 a barrel after dropping 9.4% in the previous session.


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Thursday’s videoconference meeting between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, is widely expected to be more successful than their gathering in early March. That ended in failure to extend cuts, and a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia amid slumping demand.

But doubts remain over the role of the United States in any production curbs.

“Whether the United States will join output cuts is closely watched as the market’s focus remained on OPEC meeting,” said Kim Kwang-rae, commodity analyst at Samsung Futures in Seoul. “Oil prices have been volatile as the market is in wait-and-see mode.”

Saudi Arabia, other OPEC member countries and Russia, a grouping known as OPEC+, are likely to agree to cut output, but that accord could be dependent on whether the United States would go along with cuts. The U.S. Department of Energy said on Tuesday that U.S. output is already declining without government action.

Iran’s Oil Minister, Bijan Zanganeh, said Iran does not agree with holding any OPEC+ meeting without a clear-cut proposal and expected outcome from such talks, according to a letter sent to OPEC and seen by Reuters.

“Saudi Arabia and Russia continue to hammer out a deal … What is clear is that the United States must be involved,” ANZ Research said in a note.

U.S. crude production is expected to slump by 470,000 bpd and demand is set to drop by about 1.3 million bpd in 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.

U.S. crude inventories jumped by 11.9 million barrels to 473.8 million barrels in the week to April 3, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) released on Tuesday.

With a drop in fuel demand amid the virus outbreak, gasoline stocks also rose by 9.4 million barrels, marking the biggest one-week gain in the API figures since January 2017.

Official data from the EIA is due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday.




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Oil Rises 3% On Hopes For Output Cut

Oil prices gained on Tuesday as hopes rose that the world’s biggest producers of crude will agree to cut output as the coronavirus pandemic crushes demand, even as analysts warn a global recession may be deeper than expected.

Brent crude (LCOc1) was up by 93 cents, or 2.8%, at $33.98 a barrel by 0431 GMT after falling more than 3% on Monday. U.S. crude (CLc1) was up by 79 cents, or 3.03%, at $26.87 a barrel, having dropped nearly 8% in the previous session.

The world’s main oil producers including Saudi Arabia and Russia are likely to agree to cut output at a meeting on Thursday, although that would depend on the United States doing its share, sources told Reuters.

But the threat of a major recession hangs over the market due to the halt of much economic activity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with half the global population under some form of lockdown or social distancing measures.

“Oil producers have to cut deeply and quickly if they want to avert total saturation of oil markets,” Eurasia Group said.

Worldwide oil demand has dropped by as much as 30%, or about 30 million barrels per day, coinciding with moves by Saudi Arabia and Russia to flood markets with extra supply after an agreement on withholding output fell apart.

Oil prices slumped on Monday after Saudi Arabia and Russia delayed a meeting to agree on output cuts till Thursday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers including Russia, a grouping known as OPEC+, had been curtailing production in recent years amid a rapid expansion of U.S. output that made the country the world’s biggest crude producer.

There are also questions over whether the U.S. would join any coordinated action.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that OPEC had not asked him to push domestic oil producers to cut their production to buttress prices. He also said that U.S. output was declining in response to falling prices.

“I think it’s happening automatically but nobody’s asked me that question yet so we’ll see what happens,” the president told a press briefing on Monday afternoon.

Coordinated action by U.S. oil producers to reduce output would typically be a violation of antitrust laws.

A global recession that economists in a Reuters poll say is under way will likely be more serious than expected a few weeks ago due to the viral outbreak, the latest survey showed.

“We expect energy prices to hover around current levels until economic activity recovers,” Capital Economics said in a note.





Oil’s Spectacular Collapse Continues

Oil prices extended the gloom on Monday after a Saudi-Russian price war and an equities meltdown sparked by the coronavirus pandemic saw their biggest weekly losses in more than a decade. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) briefly fell below $30 a barrel, or 5.5 percent, in morning Asian trade before regaining its footing.

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It was trading at $31.13 a barrel at around 0530 GMT, down nearly two percent from Friday’s close. The Brent global benchmark was down 3.28 percent at $32.74 a barrel.

Last week’s price war began after Saudi Arabia and other members of an informal alliance of major crude producers led by the OPEC oil cartel pushed for an output cut to combat the impact of the virus outbreak.

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But alliance partner and non-OPEC member Russia, the world’s second-biggest oil producer, refused — prompting Riyadh to drive through massive price cuts and pledge to boost production.


The COVID-19 outbreak added to downward pressure as it throttled global equities, with growing concerns over a potential worldwide recession and escalating travel restrictions prompting a crash in demand forecasts.

Prices made a feeble rally late last week after US President Donald Trump announced $50 billion in Federal spending to stem the damage from the coronavirus and plans to buy “large quantities of crude oil” to top up strategic reserves.

But both benchmarks still fell by around 25 percent in the biggest weekly drop since the global financial crisis in 2008, and more losses are expected.

Rallies will likely continue to fade so long as the market continues to weigh the double-whammy of the COVID-19… and the massive jump in supply,” said Stephen Innes, global chief markets strategist at AxiCorp.

“The rare combination of severe shocks to both supply and demand has caused the crude market to collapse as producers… steel themselves for an unexpected glut of oil in coming weeks,” added Sukrit Vijayakar of Trifecta Consultants.


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OPEC Agrees To Drastic Oil Cuts

The plan approved Thursday by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would involve production cuts of 1 million barrels a day through the end of June to be shared among its 13 member nations. It also calls for another 500,000 barrels of daily cuts to be divided among the cartel’s 10 Russia-led oil-producing allies.

OPEC earlier in the day had agreed to only a three-month cut. But Saudi Arabia decided it wanted to force Russia into a more ambitious effort. Other OPEC members worried that the plan announced earlier in the day had failed to stimulate flagging prices, cartel delegates said.

“It’s a gamble,” one delegate said.

Brent crude, the global benchmark oil price, ended the day down 2.2%.

The production cuts would come on top of 500,000 barrels a day of existing curbs, which OPEC has agreed to carry through the end of the year, the cartel said. Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf producers are also considering additional production cuts outside the group, delegates said.

The coronavirus’s impact on oil demand has weighed heavily on recent talks among members of the so-called OPEC+ alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia. Brent is down 23% so far this year, as the virus outbreak hammers global demand.

The epidemic is expected to diminish global crude demand by as much as 2.1 million barrels a day in the first half of 2020, according to an estimate from Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile, IHS Markit and Standard Chartered forecast a decline in demand for 2020’s first two quarters by around 2 million barrels a day from the same period a year earlier. Gulf nations’ additional cuts would take OPEC+’s cuts to 2.1 million barrels a day.

“It’s not just about bleeding demand growth,” said Mohammad Darwazah, director for geopolitics and energy at Medley Global Advisors. “We’ve had inventories building through this whole period and it’s about cleaning up the market and 2.1 [million barrels in cuts] would go a long way to reversing these builds.”


The OPEC plan needs the approval of Russia and other non-OPEC allies, which are set to weigh the proposal on Friday. Russia has agreed in principle to reduce its output but hasn’t approved any production figure, OPEC officials said.

“Tomorrow, everything depends on a non-OPEC agreement,” Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, told reporters as he exited the meeting. “If [Russia] doesn’t accept it, we have no deal…We have no plan.”

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak refused to endorse the Saudi-backed plan at a technical meeting Wednesday and flew back to Moscow to consult with President Vladimir Putin, according to OPEC delegates. Mr. Novak also wants Russia to increase output this summer, a move that contradicts the cartel’s nine-months plan, according to one delegate.

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An OPEC official who attended Wednesday’s gathering said Moscow’s delays are negotiation tactics aimed at securing a deal that would have Russia cut relatively little. Russia is now seeking cuts of about 100,000 barrels a day, leaving Saudi Arabia to bear the brunt of the reduction effort, OPEC officials said.

Russia’s hard bargaining is increasingly wearing down Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, casting a cloud on the future of their four-year alliance. “Maybe it’s time to consider the whole point of non-OPEC,” said one Persian Gulf official.

The Saudis’ commitment to carry the bulk of the cuts on their own could lead to further complacency among OPEC nations, some of which have historically flouted production cut agreements.

“The Saudis want collective action, and going above and beyond means they may only encourage more free-riding,” said Medley Global Advisors’ Mr. Darwazah.

Oil prices swung higher following the news that Saudi and its Gulf neighbors were considering their own additional cuts, before quickly reversing those gains.



Oil Steadied Above $56 A Barrel After Two Days Of Declines

Oil steadied above $56 a barrel on Tuesday after two days of declines as OPEC output cuts and Libyan supply losses balanced concerns about the spread of the coronavirus and its impact on oil demand.

Crude fell almost 4% on Monday, with other commodities also reporting losses while U.S. and European equities suffered their steepest declines since mid-2016 on concern the coronavirus outbreak could turn into a pandemic.

Brent crude rose 5 cents to $56.35 a barrel by 1338 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 16 cents at $51.59.

“Risk appetite appears to be growing again on the markets,” said Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) analyst Eugen Weinberg. He added that the virus and resulting impact on demand is not expected to disappear anytime soon.

South Korea aims to test more than 200,000 members of a church at the centre of a surge in coronavirus cases. The virus is also spreading in Europe and the Middle East.

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Concern about the demand impact from the virus has pushed Brent down by almost $10 a barrel this year despite the shutdown of most of Libya’s output and a supply pact between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies.

Prices received further support as lawmakers based in areas of eastern Libya on Monday said that they would not participate for now in peace talks.

“Libyan peace talks appear to have taken a further blow with both sides announcing the end of their participation, pointing to lost crude volumes from the country carrying on for now,” JBC Energy analysts said in a report.

However, oil could come under more pressure from the latest U.S. supply reports.

Crude inventories are expected to rise for a fifth week running. The first of this week’s two supply reports, from the American Petroleum Institute (API), is due at 2130 GMT.

Potential support for prices could also come from OPEC and allies including Russia, which are considering whether to curb output further. However, scepticism is growing about the chance of further action.

“Doubts are emerging about the willingness of OPEC+ to extend and expand the necessary production cuts,” said Commerzbank’s Weinberg. The producers are due to meet in Vienna over March 5-6 to decide policy.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister on Tuesday said OPEC+ should not be complacent about the coronavirus. But Russia, key to any deal, has yet to announce its position on further curbs.



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OPEC Wants To Raise Oil Prices

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The coronavirus outbreak has interrupted economic activity in China with entire cities on lockdown and travel restrictions putting a huge dent in demand for oil. Quite how much this will hit crude demand is unclear — but Chinese energy executives have said oil consumption in the country in February could be 25 per cent lower than a year earlier. That is the equivalent of a 3 per cent drop in global consumption.

As uncertainty lingers about when the transmission of the virus will peak, oil prices have tumbled more than 15 per cent since the beginning of the year to trade around $55 a barrel, a level at which many smaller producers struggle to remain profitable.

The demand shock and resulting price plunge is jolting Opec nations led by Saudi Arabia and ally producers including Russia into action to support prices. The group’s advisory body has recommended that they deepen their existing supply cuts by 600,000 barrels a day to a total of 2.7m b/d for the first half of 2020.

The question for oil traders is whether this will be enough to steady the oil market and push prices higher. Optimism in the market is hard to find. “It may prove to be a damp squib,” said Stephen Brennock of PVM, a broker. “After all, a hefty supply imbalance prevailed even before the outbreak of the coronavirus. There is therefore no guarantee that the proposed cuts will rid the oil market of its current malaise.” Moscow is also sceptical about supporting the cuts until there is more clarity.

The suggestion of Opec’s advisory body that the extra 600,000 b/d of cuts last through the second quarter of 2020 reflects some optimism about how quickly the impact of the virus outbreak will be contained. But it risks underwhelming the market even if it can be agreed. Harry Dempsey

Will China’s central bank step up measures to offset the coronavirus impact?
As China battles to contain its health crisis, many economists are pencilling in a substantial hit to the economy in the first quarter. This has increased speculation that the country’s central bank could ease monetary policy more to soften the blow.

But with consumer inflation still near a seven-year high, it has limited room to cut interest rates further. On Monday investors will get their first hint at the answer when Beijing releases January readings for its consumer and producer price indices.

Serious easing would entail the People’s Bank of China trying to guide the country’s new, more market-driven lending benchmark lower. But at 4.15 per cent, the so-called loan prime rate is already below December’s consumer price index reading of 4.5 per cent. If consumer inflation does pick up, it could leave China grappling with negative real interest rates should the central bank decide to ease.

Last week, the PBoC announced it would pump extra cash into China’s financial system as part of a package of emergency measures to shield the economy from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. It said it would provide Rmb1.2tn ($173bn) in additional liquidity to money markets.

But as the death toll continues to mount and the economic impact deepens, analysts are predicting even stronger action from the central bank.

Beijing is likely to “step up” its policy easing when there are signs that the outbreak is proving a headwind to economic growth, Prashant Bhayani, BNP Paribas Wealth Management’s Asia chief investment officer, said in a note. Hudson Lockett

Will cost of living data increase US inflation fears?
The US will receive its own inflation reading on Thursday, with the release of the consumer price index (CPI), which tracks common goods such as food, housing and fuel.

The cost of living as measured by CPI has increased in the past year, with price rises at 2.3 per cent year on year as of December. Yet, despite this uptick, officials at the Federal Reserve remain profoundly concerned about the low level of inflation in the US.

On a separate measure — the Fed’s preferred — the problem looks much more pronounced. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, at 1.6 per cent year-on-year, remains well below the central bank’s target of 2 per cent.

Jay Powell, Fed chairman, stressed this issue at his first post-meeting press conference of 2020, stating that the central bank was not comfortable with inflation running so persistently below its 2 per cent target.

Moreover, he resolved to act to ensure the US evades the low-inflation trap that has ensnared the likes of Europe and Japan. “We have seen this dynamic play out in other economies around the world, and we are determined to avoid it here in the United States,” he said.

One solution that has gained traction is a so-called “make-up strategy”, in which the central bank commits to raising its inflation target after periods of undershooting in order to make up for lost inflation.

The Fed is nearing the end of a once-in-a-decade review of its monetary policy toolkit, and such a change could be announced when that is released.

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Coronavirus headlines could hang over the market in the coming week, as China reported an additional 89 deaths on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths in the mainland to 811.

The global death toll from the new coronavirus is now at 813, higher than that of SARS.

There will also be important testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who appears Tuesday and Wednesday before congressional panels on the economy and monetary policy.

Meanwhile, on the data front, market players will pay attention to this week’s U.S. consumer price data, which should give clearer signs on the pace of inflation.

There are also U.S. retail sales figures for January, which investors will be eyeing for further signs on the strength of the American consumer.

In earnings, there are 68 S&P 500 companies reporting results in the week ahead, as the earnings season on Wall Street starts to wind down.

1. Coronavirus Headlines

China reported an additional 89 deaths on Sunday, bringing the total number of people killed by the fast-spreading coronavirus to 811 in the mainland. The global death toll for the new coronavirus currently stands at 813, including one death in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong.

That number exceeds the global number of deaths from SARS, which killed at least 774 people and infected 8,096 people worldwide in 2002 and 2003, according to data from the World Health Organization.

The National Health Commission said on its website that 2,656 new cases were confirmed as of end Saturday. This brings the total number to 37,198 in mainland China.

Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, accounts for most of the deaths and cases around the world.

The cumulative number of deaths in the province reached 780 after an additional 81 deaths were recorded as of end Saturday. The Hubei Provincial Health Committee said there was an additional 2,147 new cases, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 27,100.

The Chinese economy will sputter towards normal on Monday after the coronavirus outbreak forced an extended holiday, although numerous stores and factories will remain shut and many white-collar employees will continue working from home.

The toll on China’s already-slowing economy has been heavy, with Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) cutting its first quarter GDP target to 4% from 5.6% previously and saying an even deeper hit is possible.

2. Fed Chair Powell Testifies

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is set to deliver his semi-annual monetary policy testimony on the economy before Senate and House committees in Washington DC.

Powell is scheduled to testify before the House Financial Services Committee at 10:00AM ET (1500GMT) Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will appear in front the Senate Banking Committee, also at 10AM ET.

Text of the testimony will be released 90 minutes before he starts speaking.

The Fed chair is expected to reinforce the signal that policy is on hold given the labor market continues to tighten and private consumption growth remains solid.

3. U.S. Inflation

The Commerce Department will publish January inflation figures at 8:30AM ET (1330GMT) Thursday.

Consumer prices are expected to have risen 0.2% last month, according to estimates, matching the increase seen for December. On a yearly base, CPI is projected to climb 2.5%, up from 2.3% a month earlier.

Excluding the cost of food and fuel, core inflation prices are forecast to have gained 0.2% last month and 2.2% over the prior year.

Rising inflation would be a catalyst to push the Fed toward raising interest rates at a faster pace than currently expected. Weakening inflation will likely add to expectations that the U.S. central bank will need to slow its pace of rate hikes.

4. U.S. Retail Sales

The Commerce Department will release data on retail sales for January at 8:30AM ET (1330GMT) Friday.

The consensus forecast is that the report will show retail sales rose 0.3% last month, after rising at the same pace in December. Excluding the automobile sector, sales are also expected to increase 0.3%.

Rising retail sales over time correlate with stronger economic growth, while weaker sales signal a declining economy. Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70% of U.S. economic growth.

5. Earnings Season Starts to Wind Down

Earnings season on Wall Street moves into its final stretch.

Results from Restaurant Brands International, Allergan (NYSE:AGN), and Loews (NYSE:L) will capture the market’s attention on Monday.

Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT), UnderArmour, AutoNation (NYSE:AN), Hilton, Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS), Dominion Energy, and Lattice Semiconductor are on the agenda for Tuesday.

CVS Health (NYSE:CVS), Shopify, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT), CyberArk, CME Group (NASDAQ:CME), Barrick Gold, Teva Pharma, and MGM Resorts report results on Wednesday.

Thursday sees Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Nvidia, Pepsico (NASDAQ:PEP), Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ:KHC), Roku, AIG (NYSE:AIG), Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT), Wyndham Hotels, and post earnings.

Finally, Canopy Growth, and Newell Brands are among the few reporting on Friday.


China Energy Executives Braced For 25% Fall In Domestic Oil Demand

⇑⇓ China Oil Demand ⇓⇑

Executives at some of the country’s largest refineries expect that nationwide demand will fall by a staggering 3.2m barrels a day in February from last year — a drop equivalent to more than 3 per cent of global consumption.

Oil prices have already crashed on expectations of plunging demand as the Chinese authorities quarantined cities, restricted air and road travel, and extended factory closures following the lunar new year holiday.

But the projections of senior executives in China — the world’s top oil importer — are likely to undermine market confidence further.

Chinese oil demand in February 2019 was just under 13m barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency.

Opec countries and allies including Russia are scrambling to thrash out a response to a demand shock that could rival the drop in consumption witnessed at the nadir of the global financial crisis in 2008.

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The oil major BP warned this week that the coronavirus outbreak could cut global oil demand by 300,000-500,000 barrels a day on average this year.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, has dropped more than 20 per cent since early January, falling below $55 a barrel earlier this week. It rebounded slightly on Wednesday amid hopes that a treatment for the virus would be found.

Chinese refiners, which process crude to create fuels such as petrol and diesel, are facing a big hit to sales as Beijing struggles to control the spread of the virus.

“The epidemic has dealt a huge blow to our business,” said one executive at a Chinese refinery, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

An executive at another refinery said that if the spread of the virus peaked in the coming weeks, China’s oil demand could remain at least 10 per cent lower in March than a year ago.

“We are highly likely to see a 3-4m b/d impact [this month] when you consider the economy has virtually ground to a halt,” said Michal Meidan at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

“Industrial activity is down, passenger movement is down 70 per cent, freight movement is down 50 per cent. The timing question is key. We know for sure there is an effective standstill for two weeks at least.”

If China can quickly contain the spread of the virus, less dramatic forecasts about the demand hit are more likely to prove correct. Chevron said last week it saw a hit of 200,000 b/d on average for the year.

The Opec grouping is considering calling an emergency meeting to decide on the next steps to stop oil prices falling further. Talks are ongoing about whether they need to cut production by 500,000 b/d or more but no decision has yet been made.

Independent Chinese refiners have been particularly hard hit, cutting crude processing rates by at least half, one of the executives said.

They said daily sales of products such as fuel oil and asphalt have dropped by 90 per cent since the end of January, as logistics have been hampered by road restrictions. This has prompted inventories to rise by more than 50 per cent and put pressure on cash flows.

The country’s gasoline and diesel consumption fell almost two-thirds during the new year holiday from a year earlier, said another executive.

The average capacity utilisation rate among independent refineries in Shandong — a centre of the refining trade — has fallen to between 40 per cent and 50 per cent, a historical low, two of the executives said.

“Everyone is waiting for the turning point but no one knows when,” said a refinery executive.

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Goldman Says Oil Rally Likely Shortlived


StockMarketNews.Today — A flare-up in U.S.-Iran tension may be keeping oil elevated, but an actual disruption to global crude supplies is needed to keep prices at current levels, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc .

Price risks for Brent, which has surged about 6% since the U.S. strike killed a top Iranian general, are skewed to the downside in the coming weeks without a major supply disruption, Goldman said in a note dated Jan. 6. Oil was already trading above the bank’s fundamental fair value of $63 a barrel prior to the attack, buoyed by an “over-enthusiastic December risk-on rally” despite limited evidence of an acceleration in global growth, they said.

“It is not a given that any potential retaliation by Iran would target oil producing assets,” Goldman analysts including Jeff Currie said. “The recent incident at the U.S. embassy in Iraq occurred while there was no disruption to neighboring oil fields.”

Brent rallied above $70 a barrel and New York crude edged closer to $65 on Monday as the U.S. warned that there’s a “heightened risk” of missile attacks near military bases and energy facilities in Saudi Arabia, while Iran stated it no longer considers itself bound by the 2015 nuclear pact.

The rhetoric turned even more hostile after President Trump warned Iran of major U.S. retaliation “in a disproportionate manner”, and threatened heavy sanctions on its ally Iraq after its parliament voted to expel American troops from the country in response to the Baghdad attack.

The September strike on key oil producing facilities in Saudi Arabia indicated that the market has significant supply flexibility, according to Goldman. There is only “moderate upside” from current levels, even if an attack on oil assets actually occur, the bank said.

Being long gold is a better hedge than oil to such geopolitical risks, according to Goldman, adding that history shows under most outcomes, the precious metal will likely rally well beyond current levels. The bank maintained its three-, six- and 12-month forecast at $1,600 a ounce.

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EIA: Oil Markets Could Face Oversupply in 2020

◊ Oil Markets ◊

Oil markets are expected to face excess supplies in 2020 due to a production boost amid weak demand growth, the director for energy markets and security at the International Energy Agency said Tuesday. “Overall, we will continue to see a well supplied market in 2020,” said Keisuke Sadamori at the Singapore International Energy Week.

“Unless other things change, we will see a surplus probably, unless there is very strong demand growth recovery,” Sadamori told CNBC. In its latest monthly report, the Paris-based agency cut its oil demand growth figure by 100,000 barrels a day for 2019 and 2020. Oil demand is expected grow at a “still solid” 1.2 million barrels a day in 2020, IEA said in the report.

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Global macroeconomic concerns such as the United States-China trade dispute and the developments surrounding Brexit — the UK’s exit from the European Union trade bloc — are issues clouding the oil market outlook, said Sadamori. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and other producers including Russia, have implemented an output cut by 1.2 million barrels per day since January in a bid to support the market.

However, oil supplies this year have been boosted by non-OPEC members such as the U.S. in shale oil production. Brazil and Norway will also produce more oil next year, said Sadamori. Meanwhile, demand in 2019 has been weak, amid weak growth in the first half and India demand growth slower than expected, he said. Growth in the second half of 2019 is being supported by a low base over the same period in 2018.


In September, Saudi Arabia was forced to cut its oil production by half following a series of drone strikes on its oil processing facility. The closure affected nearly 5.7 million barrels of crude production a day — or about 5% of the world’s daily oil production.

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While there were concerns about the supply security after the attack, claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the recovery in supplies has been “quite impressive,” said Sadamori, giving comfort to the Kingdom’s customers around the world and assurance of the stability of world oil markets.




Oil Gains As Gulf Tanker Seizure Raises Tensions

Stock Market News Today… Oil prices rose on Monday on concerns that Iran’s seizure of a British tanker last week may lead to supply disruptions in the Middle East Gulf, although gains were capped as Libya resumed output at its largest oil field.

Brent crude futures climbed 88 cents, or 1.4%, to $63.35 a barrel by 07:07 GMT.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 58 cents, or 1%, at $56.21 a barrel.

WTI fell over 7% and Brent fell more than 6% last week.

“Falling global demand and rising U.S. stockpiles have helped turn oil charts very bearish, but that may not last as tensions remain high in the Persian Gulf,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York, said in a note.

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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Friday they had captured a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf in response to Britain’s seizure of an Iranian tanker earlier this month.

The move has increased the fear of potential supply disruptions in the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of Gulf, through which flows about one-fifth of the world’s oil supplies.


Britain was weighing its next moves on Sunday, with few good options apparent as a recording emerged showing that the Iranian military defied a British warship when it boarded and seized the ship.

Meanwhile, a senior United States administration official said on Friday the U.S. will destroy any Iranian drones that fly too close to its ships, a day after the U.S. said one of its navy ships had “destroyed” an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said it had no information about losing a drone.


Crude oil supply outages and curbs also helped lift prices higher. “Oil prices got a small boost this morning after Libya’s (NOC) declared force majeure on Sharara crude loaded at Zawiya port,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets.

The Sharara oilfield resumed production at half capacity on Monday after being shut down since Friday, which caused an output loss of about 290,000 barrels per day (bpd).

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Meanwhile, data late last week showed shipments of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, fell to a 1-1/2 year low in May.

Speculative money is flowing back into the oil markets in response to the escalating dispute between Iran and the United States and other western nations playing out in the Gulf waters along with the signs of falling supply.

Hedge funds and other money managers raised their combined futures and option’s positions on U.S. crude for a second week and increased their positions in Brent crude as well, according to data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Intercontinental Exchange.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) on Sunday lowered its year-on-year oil demand forecast for 2019 to 1.275 million bpd, citing disappointing global economic activity.

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The forecast was still above the consensus of about 1.05 million bpd for 2019, it said, adding that “we see increasing scope for oil demand to finally start exceeding beaten-down expectations.”

Crude Oil Production Cuts: Iraq, OPEC’s Second-Largest Producer, And Russia, Failed To Respect Their Commitments In The First Two Months Of The Year

OPEC and a group of 10 oil-producing nations led by Russia are deepening their crude production cuts, but remain split on whether the curbs should remain in place through the end of the year, officials said Sunday.

Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, met with Russia and a few other countries to review how the 24-nation coalition is complying with a December agreement to withhold 1.2 million barrels a day from global markets.

The broad coalition implemented cuts in February that achieved about 90% of the amount it agreed to, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said at a press conference following the group’s technical meeting. In March the cuts will be “above 100% easily,” he said, meaning the coalition will hold back slightly more than the 1.2 million daily barrels.

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The output cuts were meant to shore up oil prices in the midst of a global glut of crude. The effort has led to a more than 25% rise in price of Brent oil, the global benchmark, since the year began.

Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, and Russia, the cartel’s largest external ally, failed to respect their commitments in the first two months of the year. But Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said his country is now complying with agreed-upon reductions of 230,000 barrels a day. He said the delays were due to freezing weather conditions.

His Iraqi counterpart, Thamir Ghadhban, said Baghdad was sharply reducing exports. Even so, a divide emerged among the coalition on when the output cuts should end. The current agreement expires in June, and the group disagrees about the impact of U.S. sanctions on OPEC members Venezuela and Iran.

The Trump administration banned Iran’s oil exports beginning in November but granted waivers to a limited number of countries to allow for continued crude purchases. The administration is due to decide on whether to extend the waivers by May. Washington also prohibited the purchase of crude from the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro in January.

Production levels from Iran and Venezuela “have not declined precipitously—to the point where we see there are still inventory builds,” Saudi Arabia’s Mr. Falih said. “We need to stay the course certainly until June,” he said, adding that the output cuts may have to be pursued until the end of 2019.

Russia’s Mr. Novak said uncertainty over the implementation of U.S. sanctions blurred the group’s planning on future curbs. “We don’t know what will happen in April, so we can’t forecast the second half,” he said.

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Shale Companies, Adding Ever More Wells… Newer Wells Drilled Close To Older Wells Are Generally Pumping Less Oil And Gas And Could Hurt Output

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Shale companies’ strategy to supercharge oil and gas production by drilling thousands of new wells more closely together is turning out to be a bust. What’s more, the approach is hurting the performance of older existing wells, threatening the U.S. oil boom and forcing the maturing industry to rethink its future.

To maintain America’s status as an energy powerhouse, shale companies in recent years have touted bunching wells in close proximity, greatly increasing the number of wells drawing on a promising reservoir. The added wells would produce as much as older ones, many drillers believed, allowing them to extract more oil overall while maintaining strong returns from each well.

Those rosy forecasts helped fuel investor interest in shale companies, which raised nearly $57 billion from equity and debt financing in 2016, according to Dealogic, even as oil prices dipped below $30 a barrel. That was up from nearly $34 billion five years earlier, when oil topped $110 a barrel.

Now the results are coming in, and they are disappointing. Newer shale wells drilled close to older wells are generally pumping less oil and gas than the older wells, according to early corporate results. Engineers warn the new wells could produce as much as 50% less in some circumstances.

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The newer shale wells often interfere with the output of older wells, because blasting too many holes in dense rock formations can damage nearby wells and lower the overall pressure, making it harder for oil to seep out. The moves could potentially cause permanent damage and lower the overall amount recovered from a reservoir.

Known in the industry as the “parent-child” well problem, the issue is surfacing in shale hot spots across the U.S. as companies ramp up production. Most of the tens of thousands of planned new wells will be child wells—wells drilled close to an already producing well.

It is one of the primary reasons why thousands of shale wells drilled in the past five years are producing less oil and gas than companies forecast to investors, a Wall Street Journal examination of drilling data has found.

In February 2018, RSP lowered its estimate of drilling spots in the area to 2,440 wells. The company said it had found that spacing wells closer than 400 feet hurt production, and it had come to believe that 450 feet was the optimum spacing in the Midland area.

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A month later, in March 2018, Concho Resources acquired RSP for $9.5 billion, or about $75,000 per acre, creating a Permian giant. In a presentation announcing the deal to investors, Concho estimated RSP’s total inventory of drilling sites, which includes areas outside Midland, was about 30% lower than RSP’s previous estimate.

A Concho spokeswoman declined to comment. The company has previously said it would drill wells 660 feet apart in the Midland area and that synergies created by the merger will save money and allow it to go into a “manufacturing mode” of large-scale drilling projects.

When the deal closed in July, the combined market cap of Concho and RSP was nearly $30 billion. The current value of the combined company is $22 billion.

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U.S. Crude Prices Are Up 25% So Far This Year

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Oil prices are off to their best-ever start to a year as fears of a supply glut cool, part of a 2019 recovery in risky investments from stocks to commodities.

U.S. crude-oil futures have rebounded 25% in the first two months of the year, according to Dow Jones Market Data, the best January-February performance in figures going back to 1984. Oil is also heading for its best two-month stretch generally since 2016—when prices recovered in April and May of that year after dipping below $27 a barrel.

Oil rose 2.6% Wednesday to $56.94 a barrel after Saudi Arabia’s energy minister reiterated the country’s commitment to curbing output, the latest example of the de facto head of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries defying calls by President Trump to keep prices low. Crude had tumbled Monday after Mr. Trump tweeted prices were too high. Wednesday’s rebound puts prices near the highest level since November.

This year’s rally comes after a punishing decline. Crude prices fell 44% from their multiyear peak in early October to a Christmas Eve trough as investors fretted that a global economic slowdown would weaken demand for a range of commodities.

Energy investors have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the Federal Reserve signaling a cautious approach to further interest-rate increases and the U.S. and China moving toward a trade agreement. The S&P 500 energy sector has risen 14% so far this year, versus 11% for the broader index.

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On Wednesday, energy stocks were among the market’s best performers, with the S&P 500 energy sector rising 0.4%. Fears linger that demand for oil will stall. But the International Energy Agency still expects consumption to increase each quarter this year from a year earlier, albeit at a slower-than-usual pace in the first quarter.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members have curbed output, despite calls from President Trump for the cartel to keep prices low. Anxiety also remains about the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, fueling bets that prices can at least stay steady even if the rally stalls.

“Too many international barrels have been taken off the market,” said Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA. “There’s a lot of uncertainty around production.”

Because of the Venezuela sanctions, some analysts expect the U.S. will extend waivers to buyers of Iranian crude that were exempted from last November’s penalties to avoid significant market disruptions. The waivers allowed several countries to continue buying Iranian crude through April.

Both Iran and Venezuela were exempted from the December OPEC agreement to lower output because of the sanctions on their respective oil industries. Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC are likely to back a continuation of production curbs when the group meets in April, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Saudi Arabia accounted for much of the cartel’s drop in January production, lowering output by 400,000 barrels a day, while Russian supply came down by just 78,000 barrels a day, IEA data show.

Energy Information Administration figures on Wednesday showed U.S. crude imports fell to their lowest level since 1996 last week, a sign of steady domestic oil demand.

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But many analysts are keeping a close eye on output from Saudi Arabia and Russia because many expect steady U.S. shale production growth to continue. The EIA said Wednesday that U.S. oil production climbed to a record 12.1 million barrels a day during the week ended Feb. 22.

That compares with January U.S. output of roughly 11.9 million barrels a day and 11.4 million barrels a day from Russia and 10.7 million from Saudi Arabia. Worries about steady U.S. supply pushed West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. oil benchmark, down more than 3% Monday, though they have recovered much of that slide. Crude-oil futures began trading in 1983.

“I would be surprised if WTI got above $60,” Mr. Yawger said. “Domestic production is too great.” Some analysts also worry lockstep moves by stocks and commodities have set markets up for another rapid reversal if momentum changes and investors retreat from risk. U.S. crude and the S&P 500 have moved in the same direction 60% of the time so far this year.

The rolling correlation between the S&P 500 and S&P GSCI commodity gauge—heavily weighted toward oil and other energy products—increased to 0.94 last week for the first time since March 2016, according to Dow Jones Market Data, which looked at time spans of 50 days. Correlation is measured on a scale of minus-1 to 1. A reading of minus-1 means two assets are moving perfectly in opposite directions, while a correlation of 1 means they are moving in tandem.

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China-U.S. Trade – Oil Prices Pressed Higher, Marking Fresh Three-Month Highs On Friday

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Oil prices pressed higher, marking fresh three-month highs on Friday, as investors celebrated a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s top trade representative, Vice Premier Liu He.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 50 cents, or 0.88%, at $57.46 a barrel by 9:39 AM ET (14:39 GMT), after touching $57.81 earlier, its best level since November of last year. Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., traded up 32 cents, or 0.48%, to $67.39, backing off of $67.72, which was also its best level in three months.

Markets interpreted the fact that Trump agreed to meet with Liu at 2:30 PM ET (19:30 GMT) on Friday as a sign that trade discussions were progressing and the implementation of an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese products on March 1 would likely be delayed.

Investors have feared that the standoff between the U.S. and China could negatively impact economic growth, diminishing the demand for oil from the world’s two largest consumers. Apparent progress in negotiations this year along with OPEC-led efforts to slash production has supported the rally in oil prices, with gains of more than 20% in 2019.

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Some analysts remained cautious, however, amid a wide range of pending issues, including sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, a bottleneck in the Canadian production pipeline and maintenance difficulties in Saudi Arabia.

“Slower global growth, a resurgent dollar and record U.S. production are all weighing on prices and causing any rallies to stall relatively quickly,” OANDA market analyst Craig Erlam said. “It has recovered from its selloff late last year, but not as much as you may have expected and there does seem to be a reluctance to hop on board,” Erlam added.

Investors are also wary of escalating production in the U.S., which the Energy Information Administration reported Thursday had hit a record high of 12 million barrels per day last week. In that light, investors will pay close attention as Baker Hughes releases its weekly rig count data, an early indicator of future output, at 1 PM ET (18:00 GMT).

In other energy trading, gasoline futures slipped 0.03% to $1.6139 a gallon by 9:41 AM ET (14:41 GMT), while heating oil advanced 0.16% to $2.0396 a gallon. Lastly, natural gas futures lost 0.22% to $2.691 per million British thermal units.

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Venezuela Seeks OPEC Support Against U.S. Sanctions Imposed On His Country’s Oil Industry

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By Liz Kirbayeva | kir75bayeva@smn.today

Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has sought OPEC support against U.S. sanctions imposed on his country’s oil industry, citing their impact on oil prices and potential risks for other members of the producer group.

But a source familiar with the matter said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Venezuela is a founding member, had declined to make any formal statement. OPEC says it is concerned with oil policy, not politics.

Today’s Stock Market News – Venezuela Seeks OPEC Support Against U.S. Sanctions
Today’s Stock Market News – Venezuela Seeks OPEC Support Against U.S. Sanctions

More than 40 nations including the United States, European powers and most of Latin America have recognized Maduro’s rival, Juan Guaido, as the country’s rightful head of state, following disputed elections last year.

The request was made in a letter sent to OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo dated Jan. 29 and seen by Reuters, a day after the United States imposed sanctions on Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA.

“Our country hopes to receive the solidarity and full support of the member countries of OPEC and its ministerial Conference, in the fight we are currently having against the illegal and arbitrary intrusion of the United States in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” Maduro wrote.

I seek “your firm support and collaboration to jointly denounce and face this shameless dispossession of … important assets of one of the members of OPEC, the letter said. He wrote that OPEC should help to determine potential solutions based on “the impact that this action has on the global energy market, and the risk it represents for the other countries … of this organization”.

The sanctions on Venezuela have boosted global oil prices, which were trading at around $62 a barrel on Monday. The move has disrupted shipments as more than 20 tankers loaded with Venezuelan oil have been anchored off the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Still, analysts say there is ample spare capacity in other oil producers such as Saudi Arabia plus strategic reserves in consuming nations to compensate for a loss of Venezuela’s exports.

OPEC tends to avoid political disputes involving individual members. Last year, it declined a request from Iran for a discussion of U.S. sanctions against Tehran at a policy-setting meeting.

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Venezuela was once a top-three OPEC oil producer but production has been in decline for years following the collapse of the country’s economy.

Energy research and consulting firm Rystad sees Venezuelan production plummeting to 680,000 barrels per day (bpd) next year, from 1.34 million bpd at the end of 2018. Venezuela pumped 3 million bpd at the turn of the century.

Together with Libya and Iran, Venezuela is exempt from the latest OPEC-led supply cut due to the involuntary decline in production.

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U.S. Rig Count Rise, Crude Oil Prices Slide. Analysts Said Economic Concerns Were Also Weighing On Crude Oil Futures.

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By Sandro Sognussord | leandro.ket@smn.today

Oil prices fell on Monday as drilling activity in the United States, the world’s largest oil producer, picked up and financial markets were pulled down by trade concerns.

A refinery fire in the U.S. state of Illinois, which resulted in the shutdown of a large crude distillation unit, that could cause crude demand to fall also weighed on prices, traders said. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.09 per barrel at 03:47 GMT, down 63 cents, or 1.2 percent, from their last settlement.

Today’s Stock Market News – Oil Prices Fell On Monday
Today’s Stock Market News – Oil Prices Fell On Monday

International Brent crude oil futures were down 49 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $61.61 a barrel. In the United States, energy firms last week increased the number of oil rigs operating for the second time in three weeks, a weekly report by Baker Hughes said on Friday.

Companies added seven oil rigs in the week to Feb. 8, bringing the total count to 854, pointing to a further rise in U.S. crude production, which already stands at a record 11.9 million bpd. WTI prices were also weighed down by the closure of a 120,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) crude distillation unit (CDU) at Phillips 66‘s Wood River, Illinois, refinery following a fire on Sunday.

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Elsewhere, the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft, Igor Sechin, has written to the Russian President Vladimir Putin saying Moscow’s deal with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to withhold output is a strategic threat and plays into the hands of the United States.

The so-called OPEC+ deal has been in place since 2017, aimed at reining in a global supply overhang. It has been extended several times and, under the latest deal, participants are cutting output by 1.2 million bpd until the end of June.

OPEC and its allies will meet on April 17 and 18 in Vienna to review the pact. Analysts said economic concerns were also weighing on crude oil futures.

Vandana Hari of Vanda Insights said in a note that crude prices were dragged down “as China returned from a week-long Lunar New Year holiday and regional stock markets plunged into the red amid resurgent concerns over the U.S.-China trade dispute.”

Trade talks between the Washington and Beijing resume this week with a delegation of U.S. officials traveling to China for the next round of negotiations. The United States has threatened to increase tariffs already imposed on goods from China on March 1 if the trade talks do not produce an agreement.

Preventing crude prices from falling further have been U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, targeting its state-owned oil firm Petroleos de Venezeula SA (PDVSA).

“The issues in Venezuela continue to support prices. Reports are emerging that PDVSA is scrambling to secure new markets for its crude, after the U.S. placed additional sanctions on the country,” ANZ bank said on Monday.

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The deepening turmoil in Venezuela is exacerbating a shortfall of crude oil. Venezuela’s oil occupies a special niche to U.S. refiners’ operations

Today’s Stock Market News

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Venezuela Shortfall Of Crude Oil

By Stephanie Yang and Rebecca Elliott | WSJ.COM

The deepening turmoil in Venezuela is exacerbating a shortfall of dense crude oil, leaving fuel makers in the lurch and underscoring the limitations of U.S. shale.

On Monday, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil giant in an attempt to prevent the proceeds of crude sales to the U.S. from reaching the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

That measure threatens the delivery of more than 500,000 barrels a day of Venezuelan oil to the U.S. Venezuela is the U.S.’s second-largest source of crude imports. While those shipments have roughly halved over the last decade, U.S. producers still will be hard pressed to fill the growing void.

venezuela crude oil
Venezuela Shortfall Of Crude Oil

That is because U.S. shale companies, whose output surpassed expectations and reached record levels last year, produce a crude that is low in sulfur—or “sweet”—and has a low density—“light” in industry parlance. Light, sweet crude is abundant in the U.S., compared with the “heavy,” or dense, oil that countries such as Venezuela provide.

Many American refineries are configured to process a mix of heavy and light barrels and need both kinds to produce fuels like gasoline and diesel efficiently. “The short-term situation could get pretty serious,” said Sandy Fielden, director of oil research for Morningstar Inc. “We’ll see prices for heavier crudes spiking up as any shortage occurs.”

Falling supplies from Venezuela and other exporters, combined with upbeat economic data, pushed U.S. crude-oil futures to a two-month high of $55.26 a barrel last week.

The sanctions on Petróleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA, come at a time when heavy crude oil is becoming more scarce. Production in Venezuela has plunged 45% since 2014 amid political and economic turmoil. Canada, another major producer of heavy crude, has experienced severe pipeline bottlenecks that have led to mandated production curbs. Other countries that produce dense crude oil, such as Mexico and Saudi Arabia, have seen their output decline recently as well.

“There are not a lot of countries around that world that have heavy crude,” said Devin Geoghegan, global director of petroleum intelligence at data provider Genscape Inc. By choking off an important oil channel, the sanctions could stifle output from U.S. refiners, which in the past year have churned out record amounts of gasoline supplies, leading to low prices at the pump.

Citgo Petroleum Corp., a PdVSA subsidiary, and Valero Energy Corp. were the two largest U.S. importers of Venezuelan crude last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and likely would be hit hardest by a reduction in supplies. They were followed by Chevron Corp. and PBF Energy Inc.

On Thursday, Valero said it was no longer purchasing oil from the country. The company has put alternatives in place and is looking to maximize its intake of lighter, less sulfurous crude, Gary Simmons, a senior vice president, told investors. “But we still have some holes to fill in our supply plan,” Mr. Simmons said. Chevron told investors on Friday that it is pursuing contingency plans.

The Trump administration has played down the domestic impact of the sanctions, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying Monday that the measures would have minimal effect on U.S. gasoline prices. In the near term, plentiful gasoline supplies can help cushion the blow of more-expensive crude. Last week, gasoline futures jumped 2.3%, and diesel futures advanced 1.4%.

“The impact of a Venezuelan crude shortage should have a muted effect on gasoline and diesel prices at least until spring and some of the excess inventory is worked off,” said Charles Kemp, a vice president at energy consulting firm Baker & O’Brien Inc.

But analysts warn that a prolonged shortage of heavy crudes would push refiners to choose between paying a premium for heavy oil and cutting their processing rates. “That will translate necessarily into higher gasoline prices,” Rystad Energy analyst Paola Rodriguez-Masiu said.

As of Thursday, Mexico’s Maya crude, a heavy blend, was trading less than a dollar below Louisiana Light Sweet crude, a Gulf Coast benchmark, compared with an average discount of more than $7.50 last year, according to S&P Global Platts.

Historically, lighter crude has traded at a premium to heavier grades, since it takes less processing to transform it into products like gasoline and diesel. But differences in price between the types have narrowed in recent months as heavy-crude supplies have come under pressure.

Sanctions on Iranian oil sparked worries about dwindling global supplies of heavier crudes last year, before the Trump administration issued waivers in November for countries to continue buying without penalty for 180 days.

Ultimately the sanctions against Venezuelan oil could lead to even steeper reductions in the country’s production, causing a widespread shortage of heavy crude in the global market.

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“The optimistic notion that Venezuelan oil will just go somewhere else is potentially a problem,“ said Robert Campbell, an analyst at research consulting firm Energy Aspects. “There’s an understanding in the industry that the reach of U.S. sanctions goes well beyond U.S. borders.”


Venezuela Oil Sanctions Likely to Hit Some U.S. Refiners. Profit margins for turning heavy crude into gasoline and diesel have slumped to the lowest level in more than a year


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By  | Jennifer A Dlouhy

Refiners in Texas and Louisiana would be hard hit by sanctions on Venezuelan crude under consideration at the White House, a move that would leave U.S. oil companies struggling to find alternative supplies.

President Donald Trump recognized Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela on Wednesday in the most provocative move yet against the leftist regime of Nicolas Maduro. Maduro responded by breaking diplomatic relations with the U.S., giving American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

The Trump administration has drafted a slate of sanctions but hasn’t decided whether to deploy them, said people familiar with the matter. Earlier this month, White House officials warned U.S. refiners that sanctions were being considered, and advised them to seek alternative sources of heavy crude. Some U.S. refiners worried about sanctions experimented with alternatives last year before ultimately returning to Venezuelan crude.

venezuela oil
Today’s Stock Market News

The hardest-hit would be Citgo Petroleum Corp., the refining arm of Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, the state-run oil company. Citgo imported the most Venezuelan crude in the first 10 months of 2018, followed by Valero Energy Corp.

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Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Phillips 66 haven’t processed Venezuelan crude in their U.S. refineries since the U.S. imposed financial sanctions against the country and PDVSA in August 2017. Marathon Petroleum Corp., Total SA and Motiva Enterprises LLC cut intake by more than a half during that period, and as Venezuelan oil production slumped to the lowest levels seen since the 1940s.

Oil companies have urged the Trump administration not to limit imports of Venezuelan oil, warning the action could disadvantage Gulf and East Coast refiners designed to handle the country’s heavy crude, while also causing gasoline prices to rise.

Shutting off Venezuela imports would exacerbate a drought of the heavy, high-sulfur oil that’s preferred by Gulf Coast refiners and normally sells at a discount to higher-quality crude. Prices are already surging, after OPEC and its allies cut supply and the Canadian province of Alberta forced producers to do the same to stem global and regional gluts. Mars Blend crude rose to a five-year high versus the U.S. benchmark Wednesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, while the profit margin for processing Mexican Maya oil sank to the lowest in four years.

Alternatives aren’t readily available. Mexico, whose production is mired in a prolonged slump, has already increased shipments to the U.S. Gulf, surpassing Venezuela last year as the region’s top supplier. Meanwhile, Ecuadorean and Colombian crude often heads to the U.S. West Coast, leaving American refiners competing with each other.

Refiners have told allies in the White House and on Capitol Hill that a unilateral crude oil ban will disadvantage U.S. refiners without advancing U.S. policy objectives in Venezuela, because India, Russia and China will continue buying the country’s oil, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

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Profit margins for turning heavy crude into gasoline and diesel have slumped to the lowest level in more than a year. If refiners can’t find affordable replacements for Venezuelan oil, they may be forced to reduce production rates, according to a person familiar with the matter. That could push up fuel prices, something that the U.S. president has been particularly sensitive to.

Oil headed for its biggest weekly gain in over two years. Still, prices are about 30 percent lower than their highs in October


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Oil headed for its biggest weekly gain in over two years. Futures in New York have advanced 10 percent this week, as Saudi Arabia pledged that a producer coalition it’s leading will keep the market in balance. Still, prices are about 30 percent lower than their highs in October even after a rebound since Christmas Eve thrust crude back into a bull market. That signals investors need reassurance that the group will curb supply sufficiently and demand will hold up.

Today’s Stock Market News

Crude’s direction in coming weeks may be determined by whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia implement output cuts they have promised for the first six months of 2019. Also crucial will be the outcome of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China — the world’s two biggest economies.

A deal between the nations could boost flagging global growth that underpins oil demand. “Oil has had a good rally as Saudi Arabia’s willingness to move forward with cutting output was clearly delivered to the market,” said Hong Sungki, a commodities trader at NH Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul. “But the trade negotiations between the U.S. and China still add some uncertainty to global financial and oil markets, possibly leading to corrections in prices in the shorter term.”

West Texas Intermediate for February delivery traded 20 cents higher at $52.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 4:01 p.m. in Singapore on Friday. Futures rose 0.4 percent on Thursday, in their ninth straight daily advance and longest winning streak in nine years.

Brent for March settlement was up 18 cents at $61.86 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe Exchange in London. It’s risen 8.4 percent this week after gaining 9.3 percent, the most in two years, in the previous week. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $8.73 a barrel to WTI for the same month.

Saudi Arabia attempted to assure the market that the production curbs by the OPEC+ coalition will be in place, stating that the world’s top oil exporter has already curtailed its output. The Middle Eastern producer’s energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih, also said that the pledged reductions of 1.2 million barrels a day are “more than sufficient to balance the market.”

While recent progress seen in U.S.-China talks has lifted investor sentiment, global financial markets are still struggling to decipher what exactly may have been promised in their negotiations this week. China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday that the talks between the two sides were “extensive, in-depth and detailed” and laid foundation for a resolution. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is likely to travel to the U.S. later this month to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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Meanwhile, dovish commentary by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and his deputy Richard Clarida has added to positive investor sentiment. They said that the central bank will be especially cautious about pushing ahead with interest-rate increases after raising them four times last year.

Oil prices climbed around 3 percent on Wednesday as the extension of U.S.-China talks in Beijing raised hopes that the world’s two largest economies would resolve their trade standoff


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Oil prices climbed around 3 percent on Wednesday as the extension of U.S.-China talks in Beijing raised hopes that the world’s two largest economies would resolve their trade standoff.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures (CLc1) were at $51.36 per barrel at 15:00 GMT, up $1.58, or 3.17 percent, the first time this year that WTI has topped $50. International Brent crude futures (LCOc1) were up $1.63, or 2.78 percent, at $60.35 per barrel.

Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang
Today’s Stock Market News

Both crude price benchmarks added to Tuesday’s 2 percent gains and have now been on the rise for eight straight days – their longest rally since June 2017. “After a dreadful December for risk markets, crude oil continues to catch a positive vibe,” said Stephen Innes at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore, citing tensions between the superpowers which have cast a pall over the world economy.

The trade talks in Beijing were carried over into an unscheduled third day on Wednesday, amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities and increased U.S. access to China’s markets.

“Talks with China are going very well!” U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, without elaborating. State newspaper China Daily said on Wednesday that Beijing was keen to put an end to its trade dispute with the United States, but that any agreement must involve compromise on both sides.

Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil, warned against excessive optimism. “Buyers have placed all their betting chips on the US and China resolving their trade spat,” he said.

“A failure to secure a meaningful breakthrough in the coming days will therefore spark a turnaround in sentiment. It is also worth noting that the global economic outlook continues to darken,” he added.

The World Bank expects global economic growth to slow to 2.9 percent in 2019 from 3 percent in 2018, it said in a semi-annual report released late on Tuesday.

More fundamentally, oil prices have been receiving support from supply cuts started at the end of 2018 by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia.

The OPEC-led cuts are aimed at reining in an emerging supply overhang, in part because U.S. crude output surged by around 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018 to a record 11.7 million bpd.

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Official U.S. fuel storage data from the Energy Information Administration is due at 18:00 GMT on Wednesday.

Iran says despite U.S. sanctions, it has found new ‘potential’ oil buyers

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All countries that were granted a waiver from the United States to continue buying a certain amount of Iranian oil imports are complying with U.S. sanctions, a senior Iranian energy official said on Saturday.

The United States withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran last year and snapped sanctions in place to choke Iran’s oil and banking industries, while temporarily allowing eight customers to keep buying crude from the Islamic Republic.

iran oil
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“China, India, Japan, South Korea and other countries that were granted waivers from America to import Iranian oil are not willing to buy even one barrel more from Iran,” Amir Hossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy oil minister for trade and international affairs, was quoted as saying by the Oil Ministry‘s news agency SHANA.

However, without giving details, Zamaninia said: “Despite U.S. pressures on Iranian oil market, the number of potential buyers of Iranian oil has significantly increased due to a competitive market, greed and pursuit of more profit.”

The 180-day exemptions were also granted to Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey. Washington seeks to bring Iranian oil exports to zero in order to curb Tehran’s missile and nuclear programs and counter its growing military and political influence in the Middle East.

Iran has urged European countries, which are still committed to the nuclear deal, to oppose the sanctions by creating a financial mechanism that facilitates payments of Iranian oil sales.

Oil prices rose on the final day of the year, mirroring gains in stock markets

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By Julia Payne

Oil prices rose about 2 percent on the final day of the year on Monday, mirroring gains in stock markets, but were on track for the first annual decline in three years amid lingering concerns of a persistent supply glut.

Hints of progress on a possible U.S.-China trade deal, with U.S. President Donald Trump saying he had a “very good call” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, helped bolster sentiment for oil.

Brent crude futures was up 83 cents at $54.05 a barrel by 0932 GMT, after rising by over a $1 a barrel in early trade to a high of $54.55 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $45.99 a barrel, up 66 cents, or 1.4 percent, from their last close. WTI also rose more than a $1 in early trade, reaching $46.38 a barrel.

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Both contracts are down more than a third this quarter, the steepest decline since the fourth quarter of 2014. For most of 2018, oil prices were on the rise, driven up by healthy demand and supply concerns, especially around the impact of renewed U.S. sanctions against major producer Iran, which were introduced in early November.

Brent crude, seen as a global benchmark for oil prices, rose by almost a third between January and October, to a high of $86.74 per barrel.

That was the highest level since late 2014, the start of a deep market slump amid bulging global oversupply, and many leading analysts and traders at the time said they expected crude to hit $100 per barrel again by the end of 2018.

Instead, Brent prices have wiped out all of 2018’s gains, plunging by almost 40 percent from the year’s high, in what has been one of the steepest oil market sell-offs of the past decades.

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The slump came after Washington gave unexpectedly generous sanction waivers to Iran’s biggest oil buyers and as concerns over a global economic slowdown amid the Sino-American trade dispute dented the outlook for oil demand.

“It was the bailout of Iran that really pricked the bubble that was the crude oil market,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta. “For the immediate future, in the absence of anything new, the first pressure point for oil markets would come around May 2019 or a month or so earlier when the ‘extensions of  (Iran) waivers’ would be discussed.”

The current downward pressure on oil prices should likely taper off from January, analysts said, as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies including Russia start curbing production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd).

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The market, however, might still remain under some pressure from swelling production in the United States, which has emerged as the world’s biggest crude producer this year, pumping 11.6 million bpd.

“The key swing producers within OPEC+ do have meaningful spare capacity and are able to use it if they deem it necessary. That said, it is nonetheless a difficult tool to use correctly in a world where forecasters tend to routinely underestimate U.S. production by several hundred thousand barrels per day,” JBC Energy consultancy said in a daily note.

Outside the United States, production in Russia and Saudi Arabia also hit record levels this year.

Oil production from seven major U.S. shale basins is expected to climb to more than 8 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year for the first time

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Oil prices fall for third straight session amid supply glut worries. Oil production from seven major U.S. shale basins is expected to climb to more than 8 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year for the first time, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Monday.

Brent crude prices dropped more than $1 on Tuesday, falling for a third straight session, as reports of inventory builds and forecasts of record shale output in the United States, now the world’s biggest producer, stoked worries about oversupply.

Concerns over future oil demand amid weakening global economic growth and doubts over the effectiveness of planned production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also pressured prices, traders said.

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International benchmark Brent crude oil futures were at $58.62 per barrel at 06:15 GMT, down 99 cents, or 1.66 percent, from their last close. Brent, which has slipped more than 4 percent in the past three sessions, fell to as low as $58.10 a barrel on Tuesday, down more than $1.50 from the previous day’s close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 91 cents or 1.82 percent at $48.97 per barrel. Both U.S. crude and Brent have shed more than 30 percent since early October due to swelling global inventories, with WTI now trading at levels not seen since October 2017.

“Rising U.S. shale production levels along with a deceleration in global economic growth has threatened to offset OPEC+ efforts as markets weigh the potential of looser fundamentals,” said Benjamin Lu Jiaxuan, an analyst at Singapore-based brokerage firm Phillip Futures.

Market confidence remains extremely delicate amidst looming economic uncertainties as investors contemplate on weaker fuel demand beyond 2018,” he said. Oil production from seven major U.S. shale basins is expected to climb to more than 8 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year for the first time, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Monday.

Meanwhile, inventories at the U.S. storage hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for the WTI futures contract, rose by more than 1 million barrels from Dec. 11 to 14, traders said, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape on Monday.

With oil prices falling, unprofitable shale producers will eventually stop operating and cut supply, although that will take some time, analysts said.

The United States has surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer, with overall crude production climbing to a record of 11.7 million bpd.

Supply curbs agreed by OPEC and its Russia-led allies might not bring about the desired results, though, as U.S. output goes on increasing and Iran keeps pumping out more oil, analysts said. Some have also expressed doubts over Russia’s commitment to the cuts agreed with OPEC. Oil output from Russia has been at a record high of 11.42 million bpd so far in December.

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“If Russia can be a bystander, it benefits them greatly,” said Hue Frame, portfolio manager at Frame Funds in Sydney. “Although they will see a reduction in profitability, they will gain market share, which is generally more important in the oil market.”

Qatar Petroleum to invest $20 billion in U.S. over the coming few years, after the Gulf Arab state unexpectedly quit OPEC this month

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Qatar Petroleum (QP) is looking to invest at least $20 billion in the United States over the coming few years, its chief executive told Reuters, after the Gulf Arab state unexpectedly quit OPEC this month.

Saad al-Kaabi, who holds the energy portfolio of the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplier, also said on Sunday the company aimed to announce foreign partners for new LNG trains needed for an ambitious domestic scale-up by the middle of next year, but was keeping open the possibility of going it alone.

Qatar, a tiny but wealthy country is one of the most influential players in the LNG market due to its annual production of 77 million tonnes. It plans to boost capacity 43 percent by 2023-2024 and will be building four liquefaction trains for the LNG expansion.

As part of its more than $20 billion investment push in the U.S. QP is looking “at gas and oil, conventional and non-conventional,” Kaabi said.

Qatar Petroleum is majority owner of the Golden Pass LNG terminal in Texas, with Exxon and ConocoPhillips (N:COP) holding smaller stakes. Kaabi said he expected to make a final decision on that investment and whether to move ahead with the project “by the end of the year, if not January.”

Qatar is a relatively small oil producer compared to its massive gas production. Its decision to quit OPEC this month was seen as a swipe at the group’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia, which along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, has imposed a political and economic boycott on Qatar since June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies.

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Kaabi said that proposed U.S. legislation known as “NOPEC”, or No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, which could open the OPEC group up to anti-trust lawsuits, was among the reasons for quitting the oil exporting club.

Qatar Petroleum announced separately on Sunday that it was partnering with Italian oil major Eni (MI:ENI) on three oil fields in Mexico, taking a 35 percent stake in deposits that will begin production in mid-2019 and ramp up to about 90,000 barrels per day by 2021.

The company is in talks with international oil firms about the LNG expansion project at home, including Eni, Kaabi said. Other partners already operating in Qatar include Exxon Mobil Corp (N:XOM), Total (PA:TOTF), Royal Dutch Shell (L:RDSa) and ENI (MI:ENI).

QP said it will self-finance the LNG expansion rather than borrow, a shift from previous practices where it used lenders to fund up to 70 percent of project costs.

Kaabi said it could carry out the expansion alone if no good offers from foreign firms were made. “We are looking for a lot of things (in our partners) including asset swaps, things that will help me in my international expansion,” he said. “If I don’t get good deals, nobody will come.”

The company currently pumps 4.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) and aims to boost its output to 6.5 million boed in the next 8 years by expanding its upstream business abroad.

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Oil prices edged higher on Thursday, buoyed by a drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles and indications that the trade war between the United States and China, is easing

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Oil prices edged higher on Thursday, buoyed by a drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles and indications that the trade war between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and the top two oil consumers, is easing.

Crude oil prices have also been supported by OPEC-led supply curbs announced last week, although gains were capped after the producer group lowered its 2019 demand forecast. International Brent crude oil futures (LCOc1) were at $60.36 per barrel at 0733 GMT, up 21 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures (CLc1) were at $51.25 per barrel, up 10 cents, or 0.2 percent.

In a sign that China is willing to lower trade tensions with United States, the country made its first major U.S. soybean purchases in more than six months on Wednesday, helping investors breathe a sigh of relief across broader stock markets, and pushing oil prices up.

A drop in U.S. crude stocks also boosted oil, which has been riding higher on expectations that the OPEC-led planned output cuts would re-balance the market in 2019, analysts said. U.S. crude inventories fell by 1.2 million barrels in the week to Dec. 7, compared with expectations for a decrease of 3 million barrels. [EIA/S]

The agreement of a reduction in output of 1.2 million barrels per day at last week’s OPEC meeting should see the market push into (supply) deficit in H1 2019,” ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes said.

“Rising U.S. output, weaker economic growth and the production cut agreement roll-off will see a balanced market in H2,” Hynes said. ANZ expects Brent to reach $75 a barrel in the first quarter of 2019.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said demand for its crude in 2019 would fall to 31.44 million barrels per day (bpd), 100,000 bpd less than predicted last month and 1.53 million bpd less than it currently produces.

This adds to the concerns of several market watchers that the decision led by the group to cut production might not be enough to override a glut and push prices higher.

A combination of factors such as production cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC producers such as Russia and further sanctions-related declines in Iranian exports, however, would likely keep oil markets tight in the first half of next year, Jefferies analyst Jason Gammel said.

“But… U.S. (production) growth will almost inevitably re-accelerate in 2H19 as incremental pipeline capacity is installed in the Permian Basin. This means that by early 2020 the market could move back into oversupply,” Gammel added.

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The United States, where crude production has hit a record 11.7 million bpd, is set to end 2018 as the world’s top oil producer, ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Major oil producers have reached a deal to cut oil production and boost the market, following two days of grueling negotiations

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◊ Major oil producers have reached a deal to cut oil production and boost the market.

◊ The alliance will to take 1.2 million barrels per day off the market.

◊ OPEC has agreed to exempt Iran from cutting production, Iranian Energy Minister Bijan Zangeneh said.

Major oil producers have reached a deal to cut oil production and boost the market, following two days of grueling negotiations and despite opposition from U.S. President Donald Trump. OPEC clinched the deal with allied oil-producing nations including Russia at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria on Friday. The gathering came after deep divisions in the energy alliance were laid bare at a closely-watched meeting on Thursday, with OPEC unable to agree on the terms of crude output cuts.

The alliance will take 1.2 million barrels per day off the market for the first six months of 2019. The 15-member OPEC cartel has agreed to reduce its output by 800,000 bpd, while Russia and the allied producers will contribute a 400,000 bpd reduction.

The deal is in line with expectations for the allies to throttle back output by 1 million to 1.4 million bpd. Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, was trading at $63 a barrel, up 4.9 percent, at 11:15 a.m. ET (16:15 GMT). West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $53.69, around 4.3 percent higher.

The meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC members comes at a time when the oil market is near the bottom of its worst price plunge since the 2008 financial crisis. Oil prices have crashed around 30 percent over the last two months, ratcheting up the pressure on budgets in oil-exporting countries.

OPEC began capping supply in partnership with Russia and several other nations in January 2017 in order to end a punishing downturn in oil prices. The alliance reversed course and agreed to hike output in June after it removed more barrels from the market than it intended, largely due to the ongoing freefall in Venezuelan output and supply disruptions in Libya.

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The talks made progress on a critical front on Friday, with Russia agreeing to cut output. The 15-member OPEC group had delayed a decision on how many barrels it would take off the market until Moscow committed to a specific reduction.

Russia will reduce production by 2 percent from October’s output of 11.4 million bpd, equaling about 228,000-230,000 bpd, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. However, Novak warned that Russia would reduce supply gradually due to climactic conditions that affect its oil fields.

Discussions hit another impasse earlier on Friday because Saudi Arabia had refused to agree to an exemption for Iran, OPEC sources told Reuters. U.S. sanctions against Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, have already significantly reduced its exports. Iranian Energy Minister Bijan Zangeneh argued his country should not be forced to cut production in light of the sanctions, which are backed by the Saudis.

Ultimately, OPEC agreed to exempt Iran, along with Venezuela and Libya. The exemptions mean the remaining members will cut production by about 2.5 percent from October levels, said OPEC president and UAE Oil Minister Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei.

OPEC rescheduled its mid-year meeting for April so it can review market conditions and adjust its policy if necessary. The alliance did not release specific quotas for individual countries, but top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia laid out its production path during a press conference.

Oil prices fell on Friday, pulled down by OPEC’s decision to delay a final decision on output cuts

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♦ International Brent crude oil futures fell below $60 per barrel early in the session, trading at $59.50 per barrel at 01:44 GMT.

♦ The OPEC meeting in Vienna ended without an announcement of a decision to cut crude supply.

♦ Oil producers have been hit by a 30-percent plunge in crude prices since October as supply surges just as the demand outlook weakens amid a global economic slowdown.

Oil prices fell on Friday, pulled down by OPEC’s decision to delay a final decision on output cuts, awaiting support from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia. International Brent crude oil futures fell below $60 per barrel early in the session, trading at $59.50 per barrel at 01:44 GMT, down 56 cents, or 0.9 percent from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.24 per barrel, down 25 cents, or 0.5 percent.

The declines came after crude slumped by almost 3 percent the previous day, with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ending a meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday without announcing a decision to cut crude supply, instead preparing to debate the matter on Friday.

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“OPEC has decided to meet Friday again…(as) Russia remains the sticking point,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore. Analysts still expect some form of supply reduction to be decided.

“We are beginning to witness the outline of the next iteration of production cuts, with OPEC conforming to cut its own production by around 1 million barrels per day, with the cartel lobbying non-OPEC members to contribute more,” Japanese bank MUFG said in a note.

Supply surge, price plunge. Oil producers have been hit by a 30-percent plunge in crude prices since October as supply surges just as the demand outlook weakens amid a global economic slowdown.

Oil output from the world’s biggest producers – OPEC, Russia and the United States – has increased by 3.3 million bpd since the end of 2017, to 56.38 million bpd, meeting almost 60 percent of global consumption.

That increase alone is equivalent to the output of major OPEC producer the United Arab Emirates.

The surge is largely down to soaring U.S. crude oil production, which has jumped by 2.5 million bpd since early 2016 to a record 11.7 million bpd, making the United States the world’s biggest oil producer.

As a result, the United States last week exported more crude oil and fuel than it imported for the first time on records going back to 1973, according to data released on Thursday.

OPEC and Russia poised to impose steep production cuts despite US pressure

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> OPEC meets at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, with the aim of reaching an accord over production levels for the next six months.

> The 15-member organization will then hold talks with allied non-OPEC partners on Friday, with markets widely-expecting the energy alliance to announce steep output reductions from January.

> Oil prices have crashed more than 30 percent over the last two months, ratcheting up the pressure on budgets in oil-exporting countries.

OPEC and its allies are expected to agree on the terms of price-boosting output cuts on Thursday, despite pressure from President Donald Trump to reduce the cost of crude.

The influential oil cartel meets at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, with the aim of reaching an accord over production levels for the next six months. The 15-member organization will then hold talks with allied non-OPEC partners on Friday, with markets widely-expecting the energy alliance to announce steep output reductions from January.

The much-anticipated meeting comes at a time when the oil market is near the bottom of its worst price plunge since the 2008 financial crisis. Oil prices have crashed around 30 percent over the last two months, ratcheting up the pressure on budgets in oil-exporting countries.

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International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $61.28 a barrel at around 8:15 a.m. London time, down around 0.5 percent, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $52.63, more than 0.4 percent lower.

What’s going to happen?. OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia has been leading calls for the group to trim output, amid surging supply and fears that an economic slowdown will erode fuel demand. The oil-rich kingdom has indicated it wants the group to curb output by at least 1.3 million barrels per day.

But, Russia has appeared reluctant to sign off on a reversal in production strategy. The non-OPEC heavyweight has warned the energy alliance must tread carefully this week to ensure it does not change course by 180 degrees whenever it meets.

On Thursday morning, OPEC was thought to be waiting on Russia before deciding the exact level of production cuts. Five unnamed delegates told Reuters ahead of the meeting that the group’s preferred level of supply cuts would effectively be conditional on Moscow’s contribution.

The likely outcome is OPEC and non-OPEC members agree to a supply cut of around 1.2 million to 1.4 million barrels per day. As always though, the hard part for the energy alliance is not figuring out a number, but rather how the group divvies up the cuts.

OPEC began managing crude supply in partnership with Russia and several other nations last year in order to end a punishing downturn in oil prices.

The Middle East-dominated group produces around 40 percent of the world’s oil and has a long history of adjusting production to guide the energy market. The energy alliance’s policy of capping output has drawn particular ire from Trump.

Donald J. Trump. Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!. The U.S. president is publicly in favor of low fuel prices and has urged Saudi Arabia to drive crude futures even lower at OPEC’s final meeting of the calendar year.

A magnitude 7 earthquake struck Alaska early Friday, shutting the state’s most important oil pipeline

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A magnitude 7 earthquake struck Alaska early Friday, shutting the state’s most important oil pipeline and potentially threatening crude exports. The temblor struck 13 kilometers north of Anchorage. The Alaska pipeline that carries crude from the Arctic coast to the marine terminal in Valdez was shut as a precaution, Michelle Egan, spokeswoman for Alyeska, said by phone.

Egan said she wasn’t aware of any damage to the line, which transported 530,000 barrels on Thursday, but said there isn’t yet a timeline on restart.

Alaska Air Group Inc. said it temporarily suspended operations at the Anchorage airport following the quake. “We understand there’s considerable damage being reported” at the airport, the company said in a statement. There was one oil tanker at the Anchorage port, the Pacific Beryl, which was delivering jet fuel from South Korea to ports in Alaska.

Alaska produced 494,000 barrels of oil a day last year, with most of it sent down the Alaska pipeline to Valdez, where it’s shipped out by tanker, usually to U.S. West Coast refineries. No tankers were at the terminal when the quake struck and “everything is fine down there,” Egan said. A few smaller vessels were moved away from the shoreline.

Alaskan oil production began to rise two years ago after almost three decades of declines from a peak of more than 2 million barrels a day in 1988, according to U.S. Energy Department data. The state was the sixth-largest oil producer in the U.S. in September down from third last year. It trailed Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and North Dakota, states that have experienced a boom in shale fracking in the past decade.

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The recent uptick in production came amid new investments along the arctic coast and a push by President Donald Trump to expand drilling in the state. The U.S. administration is moving to expand the territory open for oil exploration in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, a process that could shift drilling rigs closer to herds of caribou and flocks of threatened birds.


In October, ConocoPhillips received approval to develop its Greater Mooses Tooth 2 project just a week after announcing the first production from the Greater Mooses Tooth 1 development.

Hilcorp Energy Co. operates oil platforms in Cook Inlet, not far from Anchorage, while Marathon Petroleum Corp. has a 63,000 barrel-a-day refinery in nearby Kenai. Neither company immediately responded to requests for comment.

Oil prices underwent a selloff on Thursday with U.S. crude falling below the $50 a barrel level for the first time in more than a year

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Oil prices underwent a selloff on Thursday with U.S. crude falling below the $50 a barrel level for the first time in more than a year amid persistent concerns about oversupply. New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 47 cents, or 0.93%, at $49.82 a barrel by 4:45 AM ET (9:45 GMT). That was its lowest level since Oct. 9, 2017. Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., traded down 74 cents, or 1.25%, to $58.35, after hitting its lowest level since Oct. 24, 2017.

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Prices came under renewed selling pressure after data on Wednesday showing that U.S. crude inventories increased again last week, hitting their highest levels in more than a year. In its weekly report, the Energy Information Administration said oil stockpiles increased by 3.57 million barrels to 450 million barrels.

Prices also remained under pressure after Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated that he is comfortable with current levels, casting doubt on OPEC’s ability to move ahead with significant production cuts. Putin said Wednesday that prices of around $60 per barrel were “absolutely fine” as the Russian budget would be balanced at $40.

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Saudi Arabia has been pushing OPEC and its non-OPEC allies, led by Russia, to agree to reduce production given the more than 30% decline in prices since last October.

Analysts believe that the group will announce a reduction of 1.1 million barrels per day when they meet in Vienna on Dec. 6-7. With the U.S. and Saudi Arabia producing at record levels and rising inventories in the U.S., investors have been concerned that OPEC will be unable to counteract increasing supply.

Traders will keep an eye on this weekend’s G20 summit where Putin is expected to meet on the sidelines with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to discuss plans for output.

“We are now in contact with OPEC and if needed, we will continue this joint work,” Putin said referring to the current agreement to help stabilize markets.

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In other energy trading, gasoline futures dropped 0.74% to $1.3659 a gallon by 4:51 AM ET (9:51 GMT), while heating oil lost 0.70% to $1.8223 a gallon. Natural gas futures traded down 1.87% to $4.611 per million British thermal units

Oil prices plunged to their lowest since late 2017 on Friday in choppy trading, weighed down by an emerging crude supply overhang and a darkening economic outlook

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Oil prices plunged to their lowest since late 2017 on Friday in choppy trading, weighed down by an emerging crude supply overhang and a darkening economic outlook. To counter bulging supply, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is expected to start withholding output after a meeting planned for Dec. 6.

International benchmark Brent crude oil futures fell their lowest since December 2017 at $61.52 per barrel, before recovering to $62.13 by 0741 GMT. That was 47 cents, or 0.8 percent below their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slumped 2.3 percent, to $53.38 a barrel. Prices earlier fell to as low as $52.82, only 5 cents about the $52.77 level reached on Tuesday, which was the lowest since October 2017.

Amid the plunge, Brent and WTI price volatility has jumped in November to approach levels not seen since the market slump of 2014-2016 and, before that, the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

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The divergence between U.S. and international crude comes as surging North American supply is clogging the system and depressing prices there, while global markets are somewhat tighter, in part because of reduced exports from Iran due to newly imposed U.S. sanctions.

Overall, however, global oil supply has surged this year, with the top-three producers – the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia – pumping more than a third of global consumption, which stands at around 100 million barrels per day (bpd).

The market is currently oversupplied,” said U.S. investment bank Jefferies on Friday, adding that “an oversupplied market has a difficult time setting a (price) floor.” High production comes as the demand outlook weakens on the back of a global economic slowdown.

Shanghai stocks fell the most in five weeks on Friday, by 2.5 percent, amid worries over China’s economic growth and doubts over the chances of President Xi Jingping and U.S. President Donald Trump achieving a de-escalation in the Sino-U.S. trade war when they meet next week.

Oil prices have plunged by around 30 percent since their last peaks in early October, as global production started to exceed consumption in the fourth quarter of this year, ending a period of undersupply that started in the first quarter of 2017, according to data in Refinitiv Eikon. Adjusting to lower demand, top crude exporter Saudi Arabia said on Thursday that it may reduce supply.

“We will not sell oil that customers don’t need,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters. Saudi Arabia is pushing OPEC to cut oil supply by as much as 1.4 million bpd to prevent a supply glut.


The group officially meets on Dec. 6 to discuss its supply policy. U.S. bank Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) said it saw “a far greater probability that OPEC reaches an agreement to balance the market in 2019” than not, adding that this would likely support oil prices “in the high-$50s, at least near term.”

It’s a volatile time for oil, with crude prices up 4% after a 7% plunge just a day earlier. Some warn, however, that a bull trap might be forming with the market’s latest rebound.

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WTI was up $1.93, or 3.61%, at $54.36 per barrel by 12:35 PM ET (16:35 GMT). In Monday’s session, it fell around 7% to a 13-month bottom of $52.77. Brent, the global benchmark for oil, rose $1.36, or 2.17% to $63.89. On Monday, it hit a nine-month bottom of $61.73.

Both rose more than 1% in early Wednesday trade on estimates by industry group American Petroleum Institute of a drawdown in crude stockpiles last week instead a build. The previous session’s 7% slide also prompted some short-covering and bargain-hunting for crude, traders said.

But what few anticipated was the market extending gains after the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed a ninth-straight week of crude builds last week, and more than forecast. “It’s a surprise on a few different fronts,” said Tariq Zahir, managing member at New York’s Tyche Capital Advisors.

“We feel the gains we see today will be limited and could reverse, especially if a risk-off attitude develops and the dollar gets some strength,” said Zahir, who expects U.S. crude futures to break below its landmark $50 support soon.

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The EIA data showed that crude oil inventories increased by 4.85 million barrels in the week to Nov. 16, vs. a forecast build of 2.5 million barrels.

The report also showed that gasoline inventories fell by 1.30 million barrels, compared to expectations for a draw of 0.2 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles dropped by just 0.08 million barrels, compared to forecasts for a decrease of 2.75 million.

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“The crude build aside, the real eye opener was the smaller-than-expected draw in distillates, which basically tantamounts to a no-draw, surprising given the cold spell we currently have in the Midwest and East Coast,” Zahir said.

Most traders have a bleak outlook for oil despite OPEC hinting over the past week that it might decide to cut production by as much as 1.4 million barrels per day when it meets in Vienna on Dec. 6. Many dispute such a wide cut happening as OPEC leader Saudi Arabia has only offered to reduce 0.5 million bpd on its own and would need non-member Russia’s cooperation for the balance, a plan Moscow has resisted so far.

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President Donald Trump’s persistent calls on OPEC not to cut production and to keep oil prices low has also weighed on the market as the U.S. president is seen as key for Saudi Arabia to avoid sanctions for its alleged role in the murder of Saudi-born U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I think we have a very noisy couple weeks ahead of us, and a volatile market that is making it increasingly difficult to express a view in a limited loss format,” said Elliot Klapper, managing director for commodities at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), in a note to clients.

Oil prices drop as a deteriorating economic outlook and a surge in U.S. production outweighed expected supply cuts by the OPEC

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“Upside potential has shown to be shaky as bullish movements lose steam,” said Benjamin Lu of Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures. Oil prices are almost a quarter below their recent peaks in early October, weighed down by surging supply, especially from the United States. U.S. crude oil production has soared by almost 25 percent this year, to a record 11.7 million barrels per day (bpd).

That comes amid widespread market expectations of an economic slowdown, which saw Asian stock markets tumble on Tuesday, adding to sharp losses on Wall Street the previous day. As a result, financial traders have become wary of oil markets, seeing further price downside risks from the growth in U.S. shale production as well as the deteriorating economic outlook.

Portfolio managers have sold the equivalent of 553 million barrels of crude and fuels in the last seven weeks, the largest reduction over a comparable period since at least 2013.

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Funds now hold a net long position of just 547 million barrels, less than half the recent peak of 1.1 billion at the end of September, and down from a record 1.484 billion in January. Concerned about an emerging production overhang similar to the one that led to a price slump in 2014, OPEC is pushing for a supply cut of 1 million to 1.4 million bpd.

“We expect OPEC to agree to a supply cut at its next official meeting on 6 December,” French bank BNP Paribas (PA:BNPP) said. The bank added that it expected Brent to recover to $80 per barrel before year-end. “In 2019, we expect WTI to average $69 per barrel and Brent $76 per barrel,” BNP said.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which represents the interest of oil consumers, on Monday warned OPEC and other producers of the “negative implications” of supply cuts, with many analysts fearing that a spike in crude prices could erode consumption.

More New On Crude Oil : U.S. government deals allowing hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of Iranian oil to flow onto world markets are driving down prices.

After the Trump administration threatened a complete halt to Iranian oil exports, prompting other producers to boost output to compensate, the U.S. authorized exemptions to eight countries without disclosing the terms.

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Washington’s deals letting Tehran sell hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil prompts kingdom to advocate production cut, against Trump’s wishes. U.S. government deals allowing hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of Iranian oil to flow onto world markets are driving down prices and putting Saudi Arabia on a collision course with Washington as the kingdom scrambles to cut supply.

After the Trump administration threatened a complete halt to Iranian oil exports, prompting other producers to boost output to compensate, the U.S. authorized exemptions to eight countries without disclosing the terms. American officials now are forecasting a cut to Iranian crude sales by April of at least 40% to 900,000 barrels a dayfrom the country’s pre-sanctions level, say people familiar with the sanctions waivers.


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The shifts are whipsawing oil markets and sparking U.S.-Saudi tensions. While Saudi Arabia wants to trim production to boost oil prices to about $80 a barrel in support of its economy, Saudi advisers say, President Trump warned against a production cut and called for lower prices. Continue To Read…

U.S. government deals allowing hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of Iranian oil to flow onto world markets are driving down prices


Washington’s deals letting Tehran sell hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil prompts kingdom to advocate production cut, against Trump’s wishes. U.S. government deals allowing hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of Iranian oil to flow onto world markets are driving down prices and putting Saudi Arabia on a collision course with Washington as the kingdom scrambles to cut supply.

After the Trump administration threatened a complete halt to Iranian oil exports, prompting other producers to boost output to compensate, the U.S. authorized exemptions to eight countries without disclosing the terms. American officials now are forecasting a cut to Iranian crude sales by April of at least 40% to 900,000 barrels a day from the country’s pre-sanctions level, say people familiar with the sanctions waivers.

The shifts are whipsawing oil markets and sparking U.S.-Saudi tensions. While Saudi Arabia wants to trim production to boost oil prices to about $80 a barrel in support of its economy, Saudi advisers say, President Trump warned against a production cut and called for lower prices.

Saudi oil officials say they are considering advocating a production cut of as much as 1.4 million barrels a day at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’s next meeting on Dec. 6. But OPEC officials say they are having difficulty calculating how much to produce due to the U.S. secrecy on its Iran sanctions efforts. That opacity, they say, already tripped up an OPEC-Russia alliance formed to pump extra oil into markets to stabilize supplies and prices.

In just over a month, Brent—the global benchmark—fell more than 21%. The administration isn’t saying how much Iranian oil the eight countries are allowed to buy. The countries have negotiated limits in secret, bespoke deals with the U.S. The lack of detail about the size of the waivers is “confusing for markets,” said Sara Vakhshouri, president of Washington-based consulting firm SVB Energy International.

Buyers too are withholding details of their agreed-to reductions. “It’s confidential,” India’s oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said when asked about his country’s deal with Washington. U.S. officials say they won’t disclose their agreements with Iran’s oil buyers because they fear complaints that some were asked to cut more than others.

“We do not discuss the private diplomatic discussions that led to agreements with the various jurisdictions on the volume of oil imports,” a State Department spokesperson said. The Trump administration’s sanctions are aimed at containing the Islamic Republic’s regional influence and military capabilities, a goal Saudi Arabia shares.

But Saudi officials say they feel betrayed by the Trump administration’s lack of candor around the sanctions and are going to chart an oil policy that is more independent of American goals. They say Mr. Trump strong-armed Prince Mohammed into throttling up oil output to record levels to cool off prices ahead of the revival of tough sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry on Nov. 5.

Mr. Trump told Saudi leaders there would be no exceptions from sanctions for Iranian oil buyers, the officials said, which would have potentially wiped over a million barrels of oil off the market and sent prices soaring. And if the Saudis didn’t raise production to make up for Iranian losses, Mr. Trump threatened to support a congressional bill allowing antitrust action against OPEC members, who he says act as a cartel, the advisers said.

Instead the Trump administration issued the exemptions—a move that relieved market worries about Iran’s supply outages and has sent oil prices skittering over the past week. “They feel they were used,” said a Saudi adviser of the kingdom’s leaders. The White House referred questions to the State Department, where officials pointed to comments Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made on Nov. 1.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been a great partner with us in pushing back on the Iranian regime in an effort to change its behavior by assisting and ensuring that there is sufficient crude oil in the marketplace,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s attention has turned to his oil-dependent economy as the kingdom’s leadership faces its biggest crisis in a generation with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul by a group of Saudi government operatives. In just over a month, oil prices have fallen far below the $88 a barrel that the International Monetary Fund says Saudi Arabia needs to balance its budget.

“Saudi Arabia has major financial commitments to meet and price drops don’t help. $80 a barrel is a sweet spot for the government,” said a senior Saudi energy adviser.

A strong economy is important as the kingdom wages an expensive war in Yemen and girds for an economic showdown with Iran. Oil revenue is even more important now, as the fallout from Mr. Khashoggi’s death has complicated Prince Mohammed’s attempts to ramp up non-petroleum sectors, said Adel Hamaizia an associate Middle East fellow at London’s Royal Institute of International Affairs.

The uproar has brought a “cocktail of problems,” said Mr. Hamaizia, a former Saudi government adviser. He said Saudi Arabia could postpone economic reforms, such as phasing out fuel subsidies, to lure industrial investors.

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More News On Crude Oil. Saudi Arabia, Others Inch Closer to Oil Output-Cut Pact. Saudi representatives said Sunday that the kingdom would slash its exports unilaterally next month, as a broader OPEC alliance debated — but didn’t agree to— a collective production cut.  Meanwhile, Russia, the world’s largest producer, sent mixed signals on whether it would pull back on supply—after moving in lockstep on such matters with OPEC for more than two years.

Russia’s oil minister Alexander Novak said he was open to crude production cuts if the coalition reaches a consensus, and would adhere to any decision it makes. But he also said Russian production had “reached a certain level where we have stabilized and we will be fluctuating around that level in coming months.”

Saudi Arabia, Russia and other producers met here in the United Arab Emirates capital over the weekend to debate whether reductions of about one million barrels a day might be necessary next year, with a decision expected at an OPEC meeting next month.

Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and Russia, which heads an alliance of producers outside the cartel, agreed to boost production at a meeting in June over fears U.S. sanctions on Iran would trigger shortages.

Oil prices extended declines after the U.S. said last week that it would allow eight countries to continue buying sanctioned Iranian crude.

The U.S. oil market is scrambling to adjust to a deep selloff over the last several weeks


The U.S. oil market is scrambling to adjust to a deep selloff over the last several weeks, with forward prices signaling a supply glut which could upend plans for producers and traders through 2019.

U.S. crude futures (CLc1) plunged 7 percent on Tuesday, to settle at $55.69, their lowest level this year, down from a four-year high only a month ago. Tuesday marked a 12th straight session of declines, which is the longest losing streak on record, shaking a market that was bracing for supply shortfalls just a month ago.

“We were definitely in the bullish narrative for the past three months, and now we’re seeing that narrative shift,” said Michael Cohen, head of energy markets research at Barclays (LON:BARC). “If the narrative gets unwound or undermined, so, too, does the positioning by the market.”

In the biggest sign of the shift, an increasing number of later-dated futures contracts are trading at a premium to current prices. That is a signal that the market expects supply to outpace demand next year and into 2020.

That trend could inhibit producers from drilling and deal a blow to shale companies, which have raked in profits as U.S. production surged to a weekly record of 11.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in early November. Already, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is considering a production cut to boost prices. Adding to concerns, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that supply will outpace demand in 2019.

“I think there’s a genuine shift,” one trader at a top commodities merchant said. “Everyone is talking about global oil builds in 2019.”

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Many traders saw $100 oil on the horizon just a month ago, but oil is now closer to $50 a barrel. U.S. production is expected to surpass the 12 million bpd milestone by mid-2019, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts. As prices fall and market structure weakens, U.S. shale producers may pare their drilling plans for 2019, said R.T. Dukes, research director for U.S. lower 48 upstream at Wood Mackenzie. “I think, instead of a big ramp-up into next year, we get flatter activity than what we might have seen otherwise,” he said.

Still, any changes would take time to alter the trajectory of production, especially as the largest oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp (N:XOM) and Chevron Corp (N:CVX), are increasing activity in U.S. shale plays. The weakening in 2019 contracts pushes the market’s structure, or curve, more firmly into contango, where forward prices are higher than spot prices.

Contango is a symptom of an oversupplied oil market or rising levels of inventories. It makes it more profitable for crude traders to store large volumes of oil for later, rather than sell for immediate use. The spread between U.S. crude futures expiring in December 2019 and December 2020 , a popular trade in oil markets, flipped from a premium to a discount of about 42 cents on Tuesday. It is the first time the spread traded in negative territory since October 2017.

U.S. crude for delivery in December 2018 plunged to trade as much as $1.43 a barrel below futures for delivery in June 2019 last week, the widest spread on record. The December 2018 contract dropped to trade as much as $2.10 per barrel below the December 2019 contract last week, the widest since early 2016.

A change in the market structure has ramifications for investors as well. When far-dated contracts trade below the spot price, funds and other investors benefit from what is known as “positive roll yield.”

In that situation, funds holding a contract shift into the next month’s contract before it expires, profiting from buying the cheaper later-dated futures. But with those contracts now more expensive, rolling the long positions forward is less lucrative and is one reason why traders have pulled back on bullish bets.

Today’s Stock Market News – A majority of OPEC and allied oil exporters support a cut in the global supply of crude


OPEC and allied oil exporters support a cut in the global supply of crude, Oman Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhi said on Sunday. “Many of us share this view,” the minister said when asked about the need for a cut. Asked if it could amount to 500,000 or one million barrels per day, he replied: “I think it is unfair for me to throw numbers now.”

He was speaking in Abu Dhabi where an oil market monitoring committee was held on Sunday, attended by top exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia. “We need a consensus,” he said, indicating that non-OPEC Russia would need to approve any decision. Oman is also not a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Saudi Arabia is discussing a proposal to cut oil output by up to 1 million barrels per day by OPEC and its allies, two sources close to the discussions told Reuters on Sunday. The sources said the discussions were not finalized as much depended on the reduction in Iranian exports.

“There is a general discussion about this. But the question is how much is needed to reduce by the market,” one of the sources said, speaking in Abu Dhabi where a market monitoring committee is due to be held on Sunday, attended by top exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia. Asked by reporters in Abu Dhabi if the market is in balance, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said: “We will find out. We have our meeting later.”

Al-Falih last month said there could be a need for intervention to reduce oil stockpiles after increases in recent months. The United States this month imposed sanctions curtailing Iran’s oil exports as part of efforts to curb Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs as well as its support for proxy forces in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.

More News On OPEC. Producers face a supply glut, despite the return of sanctions against Iran. Surging shale means the group will have to extend output cuts. It was meant to be a short, sharp shock. Instead, OPEC members are facing a long, slow grind with no end in sight.

The deal reached with several non-OPEC countries in 2016 to cut oil supply and drain excess inventories was meant to last just six months. But after last week’s ugly slide into a bear market for prices, the agreement looks likely to drag into a third year as the group faces having to make further cuts in 2019.

Taking 1.8 million barrels a day of oil off the market from January 2017 was meant to drain excess inventories by the middle of that year, restore prices to an undefined “acceptable” level and balance supply and demand. Instead, the glut persisted. Although better than expected, compliance with the agreement was not complete and it was not until the deal was extended and Saudi Arabia started cutting shipments to the U.S. in the middle of 2017 that prices really began to pick up.

A further extension to the deal helped to push prices up to $80 a barrel by mid-2018, earning tweeted rebukes from President Donald Trump that prompted a relaxation of the cuts and a surge in supply from those with the capacity to do so — principally Saudi Arabia and Russia. Total OPEC output is now the highest since before the cuts were introduced, even after allowing for changes in membership, while Russia’s hit a post-Soviet high of 11.4 million barrels a day last month.

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But the recovery in oil prices has been a double-edged sword for OPEC and friends. Sure, it has boosted revenues for most — Venezuela and soon Iran being the exceptions — but it has also lit a fire under U.S. shale oil production.

Stock Market News – OPEC and its allies led by Russia are weighing production cuts to halt a sharp slump in oil prices


OPEC and its allies led by Russia are weighing production cuts to halt a sharp slump in oil prices during meetings being held this weekend in Abu Dhabi. Ministers from Saudi Arabia and Russia will lead key monitoring committee meetings due to start in the UAE capital on Sunday with output policy high on the agenda.

Their deliberations are being complicated by surging US shale output and waivers granted to eight customers of Iranian oil, which have helped drive Brent crude below $70/b. “We are worried about the situation of the market, the global economy, the demand and supply,” one delegate said as he left an advisory committee meeting Saturday.

OPEC and 10 non-OPEC partners led by Russia have boosted production since agreeing in June to increase supplies by a combined 1 million b/d from May levels to offset expected losses by sanctions-hit Iran and economically strained Venezuela. However, weaker market conditions have put the need to restrain output back on the group’s agenda.

NYMEX WTI futures have declined for 10 straight days, equaling the index’s longest losing streak and closing Friday at a 2018 low of $60.19/b. OPEC sources have indicated that the monitoring committee may recommend that the production increase be reversed and cuts reinstated. “The market has changed a lot in a short period of time,” another delegate said.

OPEC production has risen 820,000 b/d since May, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC survey of analysts, industry officials and shipping data. Meanwhile, Russia reported earlier this month that it hit an all-time high of 11.41 million b/d in October, up about 440,000 b/d from May.

This comes as the US Energy Information Administration estimated that US output also hit a record high of 11.4 million b/d in October. Analysts with PVM Associates said in a note Friday that the price slump appears likely to continue, unless OPEC and its partners agree to cut production.

“Barring a U-turn in OPEC/non-OPEC production strategy, nuggets of price support will be sporadic at best and will provide little in the way of upside potential,” they said. The monitoring committee meeting is scheduled to start at 5:00 pm local time (1300 GMT). The committee comprises ministers from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait, Venezuela, Algeria and Oman. UAE energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei, who holds the rotating OPEC presidency this year, is hosting the meeting.

More News On Crude Oil
Oil Short-Sellers Make a Comeback as OPEC Moves to Center Stage. The oil bears are back, and they’re looking at OPEC before making their next move. While money managers slashed bets on rising West Texas Intermediate crude prices for a ninth week in their longest retreat on record, short-selling jumped to the highest in more than a year. The rapid shift in sentiment sets the stage for an OPEC meeting on Sunday to discuss market conditions.

Investors will be waiting to see whether OPEC provides any indication that the group will trim production once again next year as futures plunge. A change in policy would follow President Donald Trump’s calls on the cartel to lower oil prices and ramp up output to make up for lost crude from Iran due to U.S.-imposed sanctions.

Among the reasons for the bearishness that has roiled the oil market are OPEC production at the highest since 2016, record U.S. output and waivers given to a number of importers of Iranian crude, including China.

Stock Market News – WTI has wiped out all of its gains for 2018. Oil touched the lowest level since February as it headed for the longest losing streak on record.


WTI has wiped out all of its gains for 2018. The decline has been exacerbated by a U.S. decision to grant eight countries waivers to continue importing from Iran.

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Futures in New York fell as much as 2.3 percent extending their losses to a 10th day. Prices are down more than 20 percent from a four-year high reached in early October. The drop comes two days before OPEC countries will meet with partners in Abu Dhabi, after signaling it may cut output again next year. Oil may get support as refiners return from seasonal, maintenance, boosting demand.

“I think refinery utilization rates are going to climb and when they do, that depletes crude inventories,” said Thomas Finlon, director of Energy Analytics Group LLC.

WTI has wiped out all of its gains for 2018. The decline has been exacerbated by a U.S. decision to grant eight countries waivers to continue importing from Iran, which it slapped with sanctions earlier this week. That decision, coupled with pledges by Saudi Arabia to pump more and gains in American supply, have turned fears of a supply crunch into talk of an oversupply.

“The focus is on negative sentiment in oil and negative momentum,” said Giovanni Staunovo, a commodity analyst at UBS Group AG. “It’ll be interesting to see if some stick with their shorts over the weekend with the OPEC meeting.”

West Texas Intermediate for December delivery fell 50 cents to $60.16 a barrel at 11:26 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract is headed for about a 4 percent loss for the week and a fifth weekly decline. Total volume traded was 65 percent above the 100-day average. Brent futures for January settlement fell 62 cents to $70.03 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices are also on course to fall for a fifth week. The global benchmark crude traded at a $9.72 premium to WTI for the same month.

A potential agreement by OPEC to return to output cuts would mark the second production U-turn for the group this year. For Saudi Arabia — the world’s biggest crude exporter — it would be the third time in recent years that the kingdom has delivered a supply surge only to quickly reverse it.

The decline comes after global oil supply has surged. U.S. crude production increased to a record 11.6 million barrels a day last week, according to Energy Information Administration data.

OPEC’s output in October reached the highest level since 2016, while Russia last month pumped 11.4 million barrels a day, a post-Soviet record. Producers meeting this weekend will have to contend with not only the threat of a glut, but also the risk to demand from faltering emerging-market economies and a trade war between the U.S. and China.

Stock Market News – Oil prices declined for a ninth straight session, bringing it 20% below its recent high


U.S. oil prices traded in bear market territory intraday Thursday, with prices declining for a ninth straight session on worries over rising U.S. crude oil inventories and concerns of a global supply surplus that could overwhelm demand.

The market entered an intraday bear market when prices fell below $61.13 a barrel, dropping as low as $60.83 a barrel. Prices have since moved back slightly above the bear-market level. Light, sweet crude for December delivery was recently 0.5% lower at $61.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude was down 0.9% at $71.45 a barrel.

Bear Market: A bear market generally is defined as a 20% decline from a recent peak, which in the case of the U.S. crude oil benchmark was a four-year high of around $76 a barrel reached on Oct. 3. Prices have fallen steadily since then, fueled by a U.S.

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government decision to soften oil sanctions on Iran. The market entered an intraday bear market Thursday morning in New York, when prices fell below $61.13 a barrel. Crude has closed lower for the past eight sessions through Wednesday, which is the longest losing streak since July 2014, when the yearslong oil downturn was just beginning.

EIA Data: One of the key factors in oil’s decline this week was the Energy Information Administration’s weekly inventory report released Wednesday. It showed that U.S. oil inventories rose for a seventh straight week to 432 million barrels, the most since June, and that crude oil production in the U.S. reached a record high. “The weekly EIA data release painted a rather bearish picture,” said JBC Energy. “Production rose to a fresh record high of 11.6 million barrels a day, up a massive 400,000 b/d week-on-week, while crude stocks built by almost 6 million barrels.”

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OPEC:Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meet this weekend to discuss market fundamentals and possibly consider a cut to production levels to boost falling prices. “In view of the latest price slump and the oversupply that looks set to materialize next year, OPEC is thinking about cutting back oil production,” Commerzbank said in a note. Russia, along with OPEC nations led by Saudi Arabia, has been pumping more oil since the summer to offset the loss of Iranian barrels, which now looks likely to be smaller than was anticipated due to waivers granted to some buyers. Oil prices have fallen by around 14% over the past month.

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OPEC Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee meets on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

Stock Market News – US technology stocks suffered renewed losses with the Nasdaq Composite index falling back into correction territory


US technology stocks suffered renewed losses with the Nasdaq Composite index falling back into correction territory as Apple extended its fall over the past two sessions to more than 8 per cent following reports the company had asked suppliers of its new iPhone model not to increase production. Dimming hopes of a U.S.-China trade agreement, a lackluster reading on the Chinese economy and a tech-led selloff on Wall Street on Friday contributed to Monday’s subdued trading, after stocks last week mostly rebounded from an October rout.

While S&P 500 companies have broadly reported more positive earnings surprises than they would in an average quarter, corporate comments about rising costs, the impact of tariffs and next year’s growth outlook have unnerved some investors, contributing to recent market swings. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.8% Monday, hurt by a slide in everything from social media companies to chip makers and software developers. The S&P 500 added 0.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 153 points, or 0.6%, to 25427, boosted by gains in Chevron Corp. and International Business Machines Corp.

Apple, whose guidance for the holiday quarter disappointed investors last week, extended a rout that has shaved tens of billions of dollars off its market capitalization. Shares were last down 3.1% to $201.11, bringing their monthly losses to 8.1%. Other technology firms also retreated, with Amazon.com Inc. down 3.2%, Alphabet Inc. losing 2.5% and Nvidia Corp. falling 2.7%.

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Meanwhile, shares of financial companies rallied, with Class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. adding 5.2% after the firm said over the weekend that it had repurchased its own shares for the first time since 2012. As the week progresses, analysts say they will be keeping an eye on the midterm elections, which could spark fresh volatility as investors parse through the implications for U.S. fiscal and trade policy, as well as the Federal Reserve’s meeting.

Broader equity indices on Wall Street made a steadier start to the week — helped by gains in the energy and financial sectors — although the mood remained cautious against a backdrop of impending midterm elections and uncertainty over the US-China trade dispute. Energy stocks pushed higher as crude prices rallied after last week’s steep falls when the US formally imposed sanctions on Iran but gave eight countries temporary waivers allowing them to continue buying oil from Tehran. Across the Atlantic, Italian bank stocks came under pressure after Goldman Sachs downgraded some of the country’s biggest lenders.

The sector was also hit by an early sell-off for Italian bonds as the row over the country’s proposed 2019 budget. EU finance ministers urged Rome to bow to calls from Brussels to revise the draft budget plans, which breach spending rules. It has until November 13 to submit a fresh proposal. There was some broadly encouraging news on the US economy with the Institute for Supply Management’s October non-manufacturing index easing from a 21-year high but still coming in slightly ahead of expectations.

Andrew Hunter at Capital Economics noted that recent ISM data had increasingly been at odds with other survey evidence. “With the boost from fiscal stimulus now fading, we . . . expect a further slowdown in GDP growth in the fourth quarter,” he said.

The data failed to lift either the dollar or Treasury yields. Sterling held above the $1.30 level against the dollar — well off last week’s low just above $1.27 — as the markets took heart from reports that the UK was near to reaching a deal to leave the EU, which would include an all-UK customs arrangement.

Equities. By midday in New York, the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.1 per cent — leaving it more than 10 per cent down from the record high it reached in late August, the usual definition of a correction. Apple shares were down 3.5 per cent, for a two day drop of 8,5 per cent. The stock briefly fell below $200 for the first time in three months. The S&P 500 was up 0.1 per cent at 2,726, with the energy sector up 1 per cent and financials 1.4 per cent higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.4 per cent. In Europe, the pan-regional Stoxx 600 index and the Xetra Dax in Frankfurt both shed 0.2 per cent, although London’s FTSE 100 inched 0.1 per cent higher, even as the pound rose against the dollar.

Forex and fixed income. The dollar index was down 0.1 per cent at 96.43 as the euro inched 0.1 per cent higher to $1.1402 and the greenback traded flat against the yen at ¥113.19. Sterling was up 0.4 per cent at $1.3025, after earlier hitting a two-week high of $1.3062. The yield on Italy’s 2-year debt rose as high as 1.23 per cent before closing at 1.13 per cent, up 2 basis points on the day. The 10-year yield ended 1bp higher at 3.32 per cent after touching 3.39 per cent. The 10-year US Treasury yield was down 2bp at 3.20 per cent, with the two year yield flat at 2.91 per cent.

Commodities. Oil prices rebounded from last week’s tumble, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, up 0.7 per cent at $73.37 a barrel and US West Texas Intermediate regained 0.5 per cent higher to $63.45. Gold was down $2 at $1,230 per ounce.

Stock Market News – Saudi Arabia readies to boost supplies over Iran oil sanctions.


Saudi Arabia readies to boost supplies over Iran oil sanctions. Analysts expect Iranian exports of some 2.5 million barrels per day to plunge by 1-2 million bpd when US sanctions take effect November 5. With Washington poised to curtail Iran’s oil exports, OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia and its partners stand ready to ramp up supplies even as market conditions remain uncertain, analysts say.

The renewal of sanctions on the Islamic republic comes at a time of major supply disruptions in several producer nations and as US President Donald Trump aims to prevent an oil price hike. Analysts expect that Iran’s oil exports, which reach around 2.5 million barrels per day in normal times, to plunge by one million to two million bpd when sanctions take effect on November 5.

That is expected to strain an already tight market. Outages in Libya, Venezuela, Nigeria, Mexico, Angola and others forced OPEC and non-OPEC producers in June to abandon an agreed cut in output and boost supplies. “We are entering a very crucial period for the oil market,” the International Energy Agency said in a September report. “Things are tightening up.”

Saudi Arabia is the only producer with significant spare capacity of around two million bpd that can be tapped into to compensate for the loss of Iranian supplies. Even as relations soured between the West and Riyadh over the murder of the Washington Post contributor, Saudi Arabia said it had no plans to wage a retaliatory oil embargo.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said his country, which raised output by 700,000 bpd to 10.7 million bpd in October, was prepared to further bump up production to 12 million bpd. “We have sanctions on Iran and nobody has a clue what Iranian exports will be,” he told the Russian news agency Tass last week.


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In addition, there are potential declines in Libya, Nigeria, Mexico and Venezuela, he said, also pointing to uncertainty over US shale oil production. Falih said the kingdom could turn to its huge strategic reserves of around 300 billion barrels to meet global demand. Anas al-Hajji, a Houston-based oil expert, said the fall in Iranian exports was tough to assess but he expected “less than what most analysts are talking about.”

“The Iranians have perfected their game working under sanctions. There will be a black market for Iranian crude, Hajji told AFP. Saudi Arabia’s neighbors the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait can also raise their output by up to 300,000 bpd if needed. ‘It’s unsustainableKuwaiti oil expert Kamel al-Harami said he doubts Riyadh can sustain production of 12 million bpd for a prolonged period.

OPEC is constrained by low spare capacity in a tight market under threat from unplanned outages, low investment and unpredictable geopolitical unrest. Iranian officials are betting on the unstable market conditions to beat US sanctions.

Mr. Trump both tries to decrease Iran’s oil exports significantly and also wants prices not to go up. These two can’t happen together,” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said late September. Tehran sold oil to private buyers through its energy exchange for the first time on October 28, as part of efforts to counter the imminent return of sanctions.

Some estimates show Iran’s crude exports have already dropped by a third since May with even companies from traditional clients China and India abandoning purchases. Oil prices which rebounded from under $30 a barrel in early 2016 to a four-year high of over $86 a barrel in early October have fallen to around $75 due to fears of weaker global demand.

More News On Crude Oil Markets – Thousands of Iranians chanting “Death to America” rallied on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Students attending the government-organized rally in the capital Tehran, broadcast live by state television, burned the Stars and Stripes, an effigy of Uncle Sam and pictures of President Donald Trump outside the former embassy compound.


Hardline students stormed the embassy on Nov. 4, 1979, soon after the fall of the U.S.-backed shah, and 52 Americans were held hostage there for 444 days. The two countries have been enemies ever since. State media said millions turned out for rallies in towns and cities, swearing allegiance to the clerical establishment and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The figure could not be independently confirmed by Reuters.

Rallies are staged on the embassy takeover anniversary every year. But rancour is especially strong this time following Trump’s decision in May to withdraw from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. The deal brought about the lifting of most international financial and economic sanctions in return for Tehran curbing its disputed nuclear activity under U.N. surveillance.

Trump said the deal was weak and favored Iran. The other signatories – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – remain committed to the accord. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the penalties set to return on Monday “are the toughest sanctions ever put in place on the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Interviewed on “Fox News Sunday,” Pompeo said, “There’s a handful of places where countries already have made significant reductions in their crude oil exports and need a little more time to get to zero. And we’re going to provide that to them.” He did not elaborate. Pompeo noted that oil sanctions would be coupled with financial sanctions involving “over 600 designations of individuals and companies in Iran.”

The Iranian military said it would launch two days of air defense drills on Monday and assured Iranians that it could neutralize any threats, the state news agency IRNA reported. “We can assure our people that the enemy will not be able to carry out its threats against our country,” IRNA quoted Habibollah Sayyari, the coordinating officer, as saying.


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Among the anniversary events was an exhibition of cartoons in Tehran called “Donald Salman” – a reference to the close ties between the U.S. president and King Salman, ruler of Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia. “It’s black humor, but the audience can also be brought to reflect on the contradictions in the behavior of Trump and (the royal house of) Al Saud,” artist Masoud Shojaei Tabatabai told state television in Tehran.

The restoration of U.S. sanctions on Monday targeting Iran’s oil sales and banking sector is part of an effort by Trump to force Iran to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs outright, as well as its support for proxy forces in conflicts across the Middle East.

Crude oil markets fell further on the news, adding to Thursday’s 3% drop and losses since Monday that culminated in their worst week since February.


Oil Posts Biggest Weekly Drop Since February as U.S. Approves Iran Waivers. The Trump Administration seems to be achieving its tri-fold agenda of punishing Iran while balancing the world’s energy needs and keeping oil prices low, as crude markets posted on Friday their largest weekly loss since February.

Eight countries, including Japan, India, South Korea and China, will be given waivers to continue importing oil from Tehran once export sanctions against the Islamic Republic start this weekend, Bloomberg reported.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo confirmed that it will be eight nations, but added that details will be announced on Monday. Crude oil markets fell further on the news, adding to Thursday’s 3% drop and losses since Monday that culminated in their worst week since February. U.S. WTI settled down 55 cents lower at $63.14 per barrel. For the week, it lost 6.6%.

U.K.Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil, was down 11 cents at $72.78 by 2:42 PM ET (18:42 GMT). Like WTI, it was also off 6.6% on the week. Data showing the first weekly drop in four for the U.S. oil rig count didn’t help, with just one rig reported off for this week.



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Just a month ago, Brent hit four-year highs above $86 and WTI scaled 2014 peaks of nearly $77. But all that changed in October, with U.S. crude losing 11% and the U.K. benchmark 9%, their most since July 2016. President Donald Trump has vowed to bring Iran’s crude exports to zero since he canceled an Obama-era deal with Tehran in 2015 that allowed the third-largest exporter in OPEC to continue its oil sales to the world in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

But the Trump administration is also aware that choking off about 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of exports averaged by Iran without alternatives will only send oil prices rallying again, as they did in the third quarter. High oil prices could be a problem for the president and his Republican colleagues in U.S. midterm elections due next Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s top exporter, has said lately that it will pump as much as necessary to keep markets supplied and Russia, another major oil producer, has also said there will be no squeeze. The United States, which basically flooded the world with cheap crude in three previous years, causing a glut, is again ramping up production, reaching a record high of 11.346 million bpd in August.

With the selloff in oil not appearing to be over, some traders think WTI could break below $60 and Brent under $70. Just a month ago, many thought Brent was on track to hit $100 as a momentum-driven rally took oil the other way. But Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), an influential voice in energy markets, said it expects Brent to return to its target of $80 per barrel by year end.

“The granting of waivers does not imply that Iran exports will stabilize near current levels,” Goldman said, commenting ahead of Friday’s news. “As a result, we still expect that the global oil market will be in deficit in 4Q18, leading to a strengthening in Brent timespreads,” it said. “We expect this steeper backwardation to drive spot prices higher to our year-end $80 per barrel forecast, with low positioning also pointing to price upside in the short-term.”

More News On Crude Oil.

Iranian oil: 40 years of revolution, war, sanctions and bans.
Nearly 40 years after the 1979 Islamic revolution saw the exit of Western oil companies from Iran, the Iranian oil sector faces yet another costly disruption after a series of interruptions from war, sanctions and diplomatic isolation.

Washington will reapply sanctions to Iran’s oil sector on Nov. 4, after ending its participation in an international deal governing Iran’s nuclear sector. Iran’s oil buyers outside the United States will stop or reduce purchases because of secondary sanctions applied on foreign companies that use the U.S. banking system.

Having lifted a self-imposed revolutionary ban on foreign investors in 1995, Iran has struggled to attract external investment for any sustained period. The isolation caused by poor relations with the United States and, in recent years, Tehran‘s efforts to develop a nuclear capability have prevented Iran building output capacity. But huge reserves run by the National Iranian Oil Co have helped it cling to its position as one of the world’s five largest oil producers.

The United States stopped buying Iranian oil or investing in Iran’s oil industry in 1979 and has not resumed since. Iran produces nearly 4 percent of the world’s daily oil supply and over the last 30 years has exported on average two-thirds of that.

The mid-1970s were the heyday of the Iranian oil sector, when its output accounted for 10 percent of global production. It has never returned to the record 6 million barrels per day (bpd) it pumped in 1974.

In that year it pumped 70 percent of the amount produced by OPEC’s biggest producer, its regional political rival Saudi Arabia, and more than three times as much as its neighbor Iraq. In 2012, when a first round of international nuclear sanctions was imposed, Iran’s output was only a third of Saudi Arabia’s, rising to 41 percent last year and just a little higher than Iraq’s.



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Output dropped to a low of 1.5 million bpd in 1980, the year after Shah Mohammed Reza was overthrown, an event that caused the second oil shock across the economies of the West. It took 23 years for Iran to restore 4 million bpd in 2003, with a post-revolutionary peak last year just short of 5 million bpd of crude and condensate combined. Iran’s exports halved during the depths of the 2012-2016 international sanctions on its nuclear program.

It is unclear what proportion of Iranian crude sales will vanish from international markets after Nov. 4. The United States said on Friday it would temporarily spare from sanctions eight jurisdictions that import Iranian oil. The European Union would not be one of the eight, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

This isn’t Iran’s first round of sanctions. It has devised ways to export oil under the radar, evading detection by switching off the transponders of its fleet of nearly 40 supertankers, using alternatives to the U.S. dollar for payment, or selling crude to private refiners, in small, harder-to-track parcels.

Today’s Stock Market News – Oil prices climbed for the first time in three days on Wednesday

Stock Market News Today

Oil prices climbed for the first time in three days on Wednesday, but rising supply and fears over the outlook for demand amid the U.S.-China trade war kept pressure on the market. Brent crude futures had gained 49 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $76.40 a barrel by 0619 GMT. They fell 1.8 percent on Tuesday, at one point touching their lowest since Aug. 24 at$75.09 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures advanced 28 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $66.46 a barrel on Wednesday. They dropped 1.3 percent the day before, after hitting their lowest since Aug. 17 at $65.33 a barrel. Both crude benchmarks have fallen about $10 a barrel from four-year highs reached in the first week of October, and are on track to post their worst monthly performance since July 2016.

“Everyone thought we were going to go into the $90s, but now we are heading for the $60s,” said Tony Nunan, oil risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp in Tokyo, referring to Brent prices. Oil has been caught in the global financial market slump this month, with equities under pressure from the trade scrap between the world’s two largest economies.


U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that he thinks there will be “a great deal” with China on trade but warned that he has billions of dollars worth of new tariffs ready to go if a deal is not possible.

Trump said he would like to make a deal now but that China was not ready. He did not elaborate. The United States has already imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has responded with retaliatory duties on $110 billion worth of U.S. goods.

In a bearish signal, the American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. crude inventories rose 5.7 million barrels last week, more than analyst’s forecasts for a 4.1 million barrel build. Investors will look to official government data on U.S. inventories due on Wednesday.

Oil production from Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia reached 33 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time in September, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. That is an increase of 10 million bpd since the start of the decade and means the three producers alone now meet a third of global crude demand.

The United States is set to impose new sanctions on Iranian crude from next week, and exports from the Islamic Republic have already begun to fall. Saudi Arabia and Russia have said they will pump enough crude to meet demand once the sanctions kick in.

“(After the recent drop in oil prices), this is not the time to back off, if Trump wants to put the screws on Iran,” Nunan said. Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia hit a 32-month low in September, as China, South Korea and Japan sharply cut their purchases ahead of the sanctions on Tehran, government and ship-tracking data showed.

More News on Crude Oil:

Oil started out the week seeing some volatility and choppy trading, awaiting more signs of a clear direction.

• YPF plans to spend $4 billion to $5 billion per year through 2022 in an effort to increase oil and gas production, with a target of 5 to 7 percent production growth per year.

• Petrobras and a consortium including BP (NYSE: BP) and CNPC began drilling on its first well in the Peroba subsalt area in offshore Brazil. The block could hold as much as 5.3 billion barrels of oil.

• Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE: COG) saw its share price jump when it reported higher realized natural gas prices and gains from asset sales. Cabot’s stock rose nearly 6 percent despite missing earnings expectations.

India, China and Turkey still buying Iranian oil. With just days to go before U.S. sanctions on Iran go into effect, it appears that India, China and Turkey are still resisting demands from Washington to eliminate purchases.

Reuters reports that there is tension within the Trump administration over how hard to press these countries, with one camp, led by national security adviser John Bolton, pushing for zero tolerance, and others more in favor of offering some waivers. Several top importers are still set to buy some Iranian oil in November. “We have told this to the United States, as well as during Brian Hook’s visit,” a source from the Indian government told Reuters, referring to the U.S.’ special envoy. “We cannot end oil imports from Iran at a time when alternatives are costly.”

Concerns over global economy weigh on crude. Crude oil posted steep losses over the past two weeks, the result of growing concerns about the health of the global economy. Other commodities, including copper, have also seen volatility. “It is often said that when stock markets sneeze, commodities catch a cold.  This adage was on full display last week as a global rout on equity gauges dragged the energy complex lower,” PVM Oil Associates strategist Stephen Brennock said to Reuters.

Market in wait-and-see mode. With Iran sanctions set to take effect in a few days, the market is awaiting further clarity. Saudi Arabia and Russia have vowed to cover any supply shortfall, but Iran’s oil exports likely won’t go to zero.


“I expect investors will take a wait-and-see stance this week before the return of sanctions on Iran and U.S. midterm elections,” Makiko Tsugata, a senior analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., told Bloomberg. Even though Iran is set to lose a significant portion of its exports, “if both Saudi Arabia and Russia boost output and U.S. production continues to rise, we could have a supply glut.”

Russia ill-prepared for IMO rules. Rules from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) set to take effect in 2020, which will lower the allowed concentration of sulfur in marine fuels, pose an enormous threat to Russia. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of sulfurous residual fuel oil and it is ill-prepared to comply with the regulations. “Russia’s oil segment appears to end up among the biggest losers financially,” IHS Markit Ltd.’s senior research analyst Alexander Scherbakov said, according to Bloomberg. There’s “no chance for them to be 100 percent prepared.”

Hedge funds continue to cut bullish bets. Hedge funds and other money managers continued to liquidate their bullish positions on crude oil futures, a sign that investors are increasingly pessimistic about the trajectory for oil prices. The ratio of long to short positions fell to 6:1, down from 12:1 at the end of September, according to Reuters.

Stock Market News: Top 5 Things to Know in The Market Today – Monday 2018/10/29

Stock Market News Today

1. Wall Street Points to Tentative Rebound After Last Week’s Rout

U.S. stock futures pointed to a positive start to the trading week, with the major indices edging higher, as investors turned their focus to the latest batch of corporate earnings. About a quarter of S&P 500 companies report in what will be the last big week for third-quarter earnings on Wall Street, with results from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) highlighting the schedule.

Mon: $MDLZ
Wed: $GM $S $YUM

At 5:45AM ET, the blue-chip Dow futures were up 50 points, or about 0.2%, the S&P 500 futures added 8 points, or around 0.3%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a gain of 55 points, or roughly 0.8%. Stocks fell sharply on Friday as investors slogged through another volatile session on Wall Street, which saw the S&P 500 end at its lowest level since early May, flirting with correction territory.

Elsewhere, in Europe, the region’s major bourses were broadly higher, with HSBC shares pacing the financial sector, even as political risks in Germany, Italy and the UK continue to weigh on sentiment. Earlier, Asian stock markets gave up most of their morning gains to end mixed, as major Chinese indexes fell more than 2% each by the end of the session.


2. IBM Acquires Red Hat For $34B

IBM (NYSE:IBM) is acquiring Red Hat (NYSE:RHT), a major distributor of open-source software and technology, in a deal valued around $34 billion, as it seeks to diversify its technology hardware and consulting business into higher-margin products and services. According to a joint statement released Sunday, IBM, which has a market capitalization of $114 billion, will pay $190 per share in cash for Red Hat, a 63% premium to Friday’s closing share price of $116.68. The acquisition is by far IBM’s largest deal ever, and the third-biggest in the history of U.S. tech.

The open source, enterprise software maker will become a unit of IBM’s Hybrid Cloud division, with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst joining IBM’s senior management team and reporting to CEO Ginni Rometty.

3. Dollar Holds Near 10-Week High

Away from equities, the dollar was broadly higher against a basket of the other major currencies, holding close to Friday’s 10-week highs.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, edged up 0.2% to 96.33, not far from the 10-week peak of 96.62 set on Friday. Elsewhere in currencies, the euro was a touch lower, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced calls from her own conservatives to cede the party’s leadership, further eroding her authority after painful losses in a regional election.

The pound was also slightly lower against the greenback, as investors awaited the autumn budget statement from British Chancellor Philip Hammond.

4. Oil Prices Edge Lower

In commodities, oil prices were lower to start the week, as a slump in stock markets and concerns about slowing global growth clouded the fuel demand outlook.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $67.06 a barrel, down 54 cents, or 0.8%, from their last settlement. Front-month Brent crude oil futures were trading down 63 cents, or 0.8%, at $77.03 a barrel.

Losses were kept in check as looming U.S. sanctions on Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are widely expected to lead to a tighter market. The sanctions, due to come into force Nov. 4, are being reinstated after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year.


5. U.S. PCE Inflation Data

On the economic calendar, investors will get more data on the state of the U.S. consumer with personal income and spending data for September set for release at 8:30AM ET. Economists expect personal income to rise 0.4% over the prior month, while spending is forecast to gain 0.4%, according to estimates. The Fed’s preferred inflation metric, core personal consumption expenditures (PCE), is also set for release in the morning.

The consensus forecast is that the report will show that the core PCE price index inched up 0.1% last month. On an annualized basis, core PCE prices are expected to rise 2%.

The highlight of this week’s data releases will come Friday, when the U.S. Labor Department releases the nonfarm payrolls report for October.

Oil fell near the lowest level in two months as a rout in U.S. stocks prompted investors to flee risk assets and as American crude inventories continued to rise.

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Futures in New York dropped as much as 1.2 percent after a 0.6 percent gain on Wednesday. Asia’s main equity gauge entered a bear market after U.S. stocks erased all of this year’s gains on Wednesday. While the stock-market rout spread to risk assets including oil and copper, safe-havens like gold gained. Meanwhile, a government report showed U.S. crude stockpiles climbed more than expected, rising for a fifth week.

Oil Resumes Slide on Sinking Stocks And Growing U.S. Inventories.

Oil is poised for the worst monthly decline since July 2016 as ongoing trade tensions stoke concerns over global growth that drives energy demand at a time when American crude stockpiles are increasing. Traders are also closely watching how much Iranian oil will be removed from the market by U.S. sanctions and whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies can fill the gap.

“Sell-off in equity markets raised concerns over oil demand, contributing to a decline in prices,” said Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst at Rakuten Securities Inc. in Tokyo. In addition, the gain in U.S. crude inventories is adding to bearish sentiment, he added. West Texas Intermediate for December delivery declined as much as 83 cents to $65.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and traded at $66.43 at 7:57 a.m. in London. The contract rose 39 cents to $66.82 on Wednesday. Total volume traded was about 5 percent below the 100-day average.

Brent for December settlement fell 41 cents to $75.76 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract dropped 27 cents to $76.17 on Wednesday. The global benchmark traded at a $9.32 premium to WTI. In equity markets, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 2.4 percent on Thursday, taking its slide from a January peak to more than 20 percent. Both the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted on Wednesday on mixed corporate earnings and concerns over global economic growth. Elsewhere, gold has climbed to a three-month high.

In the U.S., nationwide inventories climbed by 6.35 million barrels last week for the longest streak of gains since March 2017, the Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday. That compares with the median 3.7 million-barrel increase forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Meanwhile, American gasoline stockpiles declined by 4.83 million barrels and distillate inventories dropped for a fifth straight week, according to EIA data. Refinery runs in the country remained low due to seasonal maintenance.

More News: Oil steadied near the lowest level in two months as a rout in global equity markets abated.

Futures in New York fell 0.2 percent, paring earlier decline of as much as 1.2 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 index increased, while futures on the S&P 500 Index advanced after an earlier rout wiped out all of the U.S. index’s gains for this year. Meanwhile, a government report on Wednesday showed American crude stockpiles climbed more than expected, rising for a fifth week.

Oil is poised for the worst monthly decline since July 2016 as ongoing trade tensions stoke concerns over global energy demand at a time American crude stockpiles are increasing. Traders are also closely watching how much Iranian oil will be removed from the market when U.S. sanctions hit next month and whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are willing — and able — to fill the gap.

“The sentiment in other asset classes is very much looked at, and it seems that the market is trying to find a bottom around current levels,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro Bank NV. “There needs to be a driver which can push prices up again and Iran sanctions kicking in might be one of them.”

West Texas Intermediate for December delivery declined as much as 83 cents to $65.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and was at $66.68 at 11:37 a.m. in London. The contract rose 39 cents on Wednesday. Total volume traded was in line with the 100-day average. Brent for December settlement fell 6 cents to $76.11 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, after declining 27 cents on Wednesday. The global benchmark traded at a $9.44 premium to WTI.


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Equities in Europe rose after Asian gauges fell for a third day. Futures on the S&P 500 Index advanced, with positive results from Tesla Inc. brightening the mood. The Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas index gained after three days of declines.

In the U.S., nationwide crude inventories climbed by 6.35 million barrels last week for the longest streak of gains since March 2017, the Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday

U.S. crude oil inventories rose more than expected last week, the Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report on Wednesday.

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U.S. crude oil inventories rose more than expected last week, the Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report on Wednesday. The EIA data showed that crude oil inventories rose by 6.35 million barrels in the week to October 19. That was compared to forecasts for a stockpile build of just 3.69 million barrels, after a build of 6.5 million barrels in the previous week.

The EIA report also showed that gasoline inventories fell by 4.83 million barrels, compared to expectations for a draw of 1.88 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles decreased by 2.26 million barrels, compared to forecasts for a drop of 1.93 million.

London-traded Brent crude futures were up 0.22% to $76.61 a barrel by 10:36 AM ET (14:36 GMT) from their last close, compared to $76.52 ahead of the release.

U.S. crude prices were trading up 0.69% to $66.89 a barrel, compared to $66.83 prior to the publication. Prior to the release, oil was headed higher as prices rebounded after plunging as much as 5% in the previous session as Saudi Arabia said it would keep markets supplied despite the upcoming U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Tuesday that the kingdom has no intention of unleashing a 1973-style oil embargo on Western consumers, despite its worsening crisis from allegations that it murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Instead of restricting supplies, Saudi Arabia would step up to “meet any demand that materializes to ensure customers are satisfied.” In early September, OPEC and industry sources said Saudi Arabia was trying to keep oil at between $70 and $80 per barrel, partly to maximize revenue.

U.S. sanctions due on Nov. 4 are expected to reduce oil exports from Iran and has boosted oil prices by as much as 25% initially this year. Commercial crude inventories rose by 9.9 million barrels in the week to Oct. 19 to 418.4 million, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday. In other news, China’s state planner said on Wednesday it would offer more financial support for companies affected by the trade dispute between U.S. and China.


Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices (Center on Global Energy Policy Series) – $35.00

Last week, President Xi Jinping offered support to the country’s private sector, while the State Council also said on Monday that it would support bond financing by private firms, adding that the People’s Bank of China will provide funding to facilitate this, although the central bank did not provide any details of the size of the plan or a timeline at the moment.  Earlier this year, Washington imposed $200 billion taxes on Chinese goods, while Beijing targetted $60 billion of U.S. goods.

U.S. oil inventories climbed 6.5 million barrels last week, almost triple the amount analysts had forecast, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

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Market players are likely to stay focused on global supplies in the week ahead, after oil prices suffered their second consecutive weekly loss, driven lower by indications of swelling U.S. crude stockpiles. U.S. oil inventories climbed 6.5 million barrels last week, almost triple the amount analysts had forecast, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. It was the fourth straight weekly climb that has seen domestic supplies swell by a total of 22 million barrels over that period.

Meanwhile, the U.S. oil drilling rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose by four to 873 this week, the highest since March 2015, General Electric (NYSE:GE)’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday.

Additionally, oil traders will also keep a watchful eye on simmering geopolitical tensions between OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and the U.S. over the suspected death of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2. President Donald Trump on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that Khashoggi is likely dead and said there would be “very severe” consequences if it was determined that Saudi rulers were behind it, without specifying what they might entail.

Investors suspect the latest development could undermine the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has the risk of eventually destabilizing the oil-rich kingdom. Oil prices ended slightly higher on Friday, but remained at an inflection point after a rough week. December West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, rose 57 cents, or roughly 0.8%, on Friday to settle at $69.28 a barrel by close of trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Despite Friday’s gain, it suffered a weekly loss about 3.1%. Meanwhile, the global benchmark, Brent crude for December delivery on the ICE Futures Europe exchange, added 49 cents, or around 0.6%, to end at $79.78 a barrel.

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It posted a weekly decline of 0.8%. Not helping the mood were indications that global trade disputes, most notably between the U.S. and China, were curbing economic activity, and, by extension, eroding energy demand. Continued weakness in global equities was also a weight on crude oil earlier in the week. Ahead of the coming week, Investing.com has compiled a list of the main events likely to affect the oil market:

Tuesday, October 23

The American Petroleum Institute is to publish its weekly update on U.S. oil supplies.

Wednesday, October 24

The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly report on oil stockpiles.

Friday, October 26

Baker Hughes will release weekly data on the U.S. oil rig count.

The WTI crude oil futures contract has stalled at major resistance and could reverse in the coming weeks, ending the uptrend that started in 2016.

StockMarketNews.Today ©

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Stock Market News Today

The WTI crude oil futures contract has stalled at major resistance and could reverse in the coming weeks, ending the uptrend that started in 2016. That would surprise market watchers, given steady buying interest generated by supply disruption fears in reaction to renewed Iranian sanctions. A downturn may also indicate that growing supply is finally exceeding demand at the same time that many economists are forecasting a worldwide slowdown.

Initial downside won’t cause much pain, with the contract trading above long-term moving averages for the first time since 2014. Those support levels suggest that a decline will be mild at first, ending in the low $60s. However, major sell signals will go off if crude oil drops into the upper $50s, opening the door to a bear market impulse that could eventually test the 2016 low in the mid-$20s.

The commodity tested 1986 support near $10 in 1998 and turned higher, entering a secular uptrend that carved an Elliott five-wave rally sequence into 2008. The fifth and final wave posted parabolic action between January 2007 and July 2008, nearly tripling in price into an all-time high at $147.27. The contract plunged during the economic crisis, piercing the parabolic bubble in a six-month 115-point death spiral.

The subsequent bounce mounted the .618 Fibonacci sell-off retracement level in March 2011 and topped out at $115 two months later, marking the highest high in the past seven years. It then eased into a broad symmetrical triangle pattern, finally breaking down in August 2014. Crude oil and other commodities then entered severe declines, losing ground into the first quarter of 2016. The contract undercut the 2008 low by six points at that time, bottoming out at $26.05.

Price action since 2016 has carved a healthy advance that could mark the first four waves of an Elliott five-wave rally pattern. However, the contract has now stalled at major resistance generated by the intersection of a 10-year trendline and two Fibonacci retracement patterns. The larger Fibonacci grid (red) encompasses the entire trading range between 2008 and 2016, while the smaller grid (blue) encloses the Elliott five-wave decline between September 2013 and January 2016.

Those grids intersect at the $70 level, with the .382 retracement of the larger range narrowly aligned with the .50 retracement of the smaller range. Meanwhile, price action reached the trendline of lower highs since 2008 for the fourth time this month, setting off a minor reversal. This falling trendline will come into perfect alignment with the Fibonacci levels in May 2019, setting an expiration date on the current technical set-up.

The contract has consolidated around the $70 level for the past six months while the monthly stochastics oscillator has entered a sell cycle that could last through the first quarter of 2019. The conjoined 50- and 200-month exponential moving averages (EMAs) at $62 should be watched closely while this bearish signal is in force, with a bounce and bullish crossover signaling the start of a potential fifth-wave rally that breaks resistance, or a breakdown into the $50s that could spread contagion through the commodity complex like it did three years ago. Crude oil has stalled at major resistance in the low $70s and could sell off into the low $60s in the coming months. Price action at that level could dictate the contract’s direction well into the next decade.

Oil prices advanced on Friday and were near four-year highs. Oil Prices Advance as U.S. Denies Reports of Using Emergency Supply.


Oil prices advanced on Friday and were near four-year highs on Friday after Energy Secretary Rick Perry denied reports that the U.S. government plans to use emergency oil reserves to make up for barrels that would be lost from sanctions applied by Washington on Iranian oil exports. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, Crude Oil WTI Futures for November delivery traded 0.2% higher to $72.25 a barrel by 12:45AM ET (04:45 GMT), while on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent Oil Futures for December delivery gained 0.05% to trade at $81.42 a barrel.

Perry told a news conference at the Department of Energy late on Wednesday that the Trump Administration was not considering a release of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to offset the impact of the sanctions on Iran that would come into force from Nov. 4. Headlines over the past three months have repeatedly raised the possibility of President Donald Trump tapping the SPR to lower current market and pump prices for gasoline and the president has not publicly refuted the reports. High oil prices are a political risk for Triump and his fellow Republicans.

“Perry is right. A release from the SPR will give the market a false sense of security and the demand side of the equation would be slow to adjust to less barrels,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Meanwhile, the upcoming U.S. sanctions on Iran has been supporting the crude market in recent months. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members, including Russia, said they have little spare capacity to increase output in order to offset low supplies that will be brought on by the Iranian sanctions. Iran is OPEC’s third-largest producer. “The market has been focusing on trading headlines on the Iran sanctions for a whole week. But views on how much OPEC and Russia can make up for the losses vary,” said Chen Kai, head of commodity research at Shenda Futures.

OPEC’s leader Saudi Arabia and its biggest oil-producer ally outside the group, Russia, ruled out on Sunday any immediate, additional increase in crude output, effectively rebuffing U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls for action to cool the market.


OPEC, Russia rebuff Trump’s call for immediate boost to oil output. OPEC’s leader Saudi Arabia and its biggest oil-producer ally outside the group, Russia, ruled out on Sunday any immediate, additional increase in crude output, effectively rebuffing U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls for action to cool the market. “I do not influence prices,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters as OPEC and non-OPEC energy ministers gathered in Algiers for a meeting that ended with no formal recommendation for any additional supply boost.

Benchmark Brent oil (LCOc1) reached $80 a barrel this month, prompting Trump to reiterate on Thursday his demand that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries lower prices. The price rally mainly stemmed from a decline in oil exports from OPEC member Iran due to fresh U.S. sanctions.

“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Falih said Saudi Arabia had spare capacity to increase oil output but no such move was needed at the moment. “My information is that the markets are adequately supplied. I don’t know of any refiner in the world who is looking for oil and is not able to get it,” Falih said.

However, he signaled Saudi Arabia stood ready to increase supply if Iran’s output fell: “Whatever takes place between now and the end of the year in terms of supply changes will be addressed.”

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said no immediate output increase was necessary, although he believed a trade war between China and the United States as well as U.S. sanctions on Iran were creating new challenges for oil markets. Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhy and Kuwaiti counterpart Bakhit al-Rashidi told reporters after Sunday’s talks that producers had agreed they needed to focus on reaching 100 percent compliance with production cuts agreed in June.

That effectively means compensating for falling Iranian production. Al-Rumhy said the exact mechanism for doing so had not been discussed. The statement from Trump, meanwhile, was not his first criticism of OPEC. Higher gasoline prices for U.S. consumers could create a political headache for Republican Trump before mid-term congressional elections in November.

Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, has accused Trump of orchestrating the oil price rally by imposing sanctions on Tehran and accused its regional arch-rival Saudi Arabia of bowing to U.S. pressure. On Sunday, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Trump’s tweet “was the biggest insult to Washington’s allies in the Middle East”.

Seeking to reverse a downturn in oil prices that began in 2014, OPEC, Russia and other allies decided in late 2016 to reduce supply by some 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd). In June this year, however, after months of cutting by more than their pact had called for, largely due to involuntary reductions from Venezuela and other producers, they agreed to boost output by returning to 100 percent compliance.

That equates to an increase of about 1 million bpd, but latest data show they are some way from achieving that target. In August, OPEC and its allies cut production by 600,000 bpd more than their pact required, mainly as a result of falling output in Iran as customers in Europe and Asia reduced purchases ahead of the U.S. sanctions deadline.

Iran told OPEC its production had been steady in August at 3.8 million bpd. OPEC’s own estimates, according to its secondary sources such as researchers and ship-trackers, put Iranian output at 3.58 million bpd. Falih said returning to 100 percent compliance was the main objective and should be achieved in the next two-three months. Although he refrained from specifying how that could be done, Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer with significant spare capacity.

“We have the consensus that we need to offset reductions and achieve 100 percent compliance, which means we can produce significantly more than we are producing today if there is demand,” Falih said. “The biggest issue is not with the producing countries, it’s with the refiners, it’s with the demand. We in Saudi Arabia have not seen demand for any additional barrel that we did not produce.”

OPEC also decided on Sunday to adjust the dates of its next meeting to Dec. 6-7 from the earlier-agreed Dec. 3. The joint OPEC/non-OPEC ministerial monitoring committee will next meet on Nov. 11 in Abu Dhabi.

Today’s Top Stock Market News. Daily Overview on the News from the Stock Market. Saturday – 2018/08/25

Stock Market News Today

US economy >>> Fed’s Powell sees few signs of US economy overheating.


The Federal Reserve does not see risks of the US economy overheating, chairman Jay Powell said, as he defended the central bank’s gradual approach to lifting interest rates against critics that have included President Donald Trump.

The Fed has signalled it will lift rates again next month, with a December move also widely expected. But prospects get murkier in 2019 as rates close in on current estimates of neutral rates — broadly defined as the interest rate that keeps the economy on an even keel.

Mr Powell, speaking at the annual Jackson Hole symposium for central bankers, did not directly refer to presidential criticism, instead focusing on the academic and historical justification for his cautious approach to rate rises. He said the Fed was attempting to navigate between twin risks — moving too quickly and needlessly shortening the economic expansion, and conversely lifting rates too slowly and risking a “destabilising overheating”.

“I see the current path of gradually raising interest rates as the [Fed’s] approach to taking seriously both of these risks,” Mr Powell said. “While inflation has recently moved up near 2 per cent, we have seen no clear sign of an acceleration above 2 per cent, and there does not seem to be an elevated risk of overheating.”

The chairman’s dovish tone prompted a sell-off in the dollar, as investors expressed relief that recent strong economic data would not deter Mr Powell from his go-slow approach. The dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of other currencies, fell 0.6 per cent on the remarks.

Complicating Mr Powell’s deliberations are the Trump administration’s escalating disputes with the US’s largest trading partners and the turbulence in emerging markets. Mr Trump’s attacks on the Fed for lifting rates have also added to market unease.

Mr Powell’s address, his first as Fed chairman to the Kansas City Fed’s annual symposium, came just a week after Mr Trump said he was “not thrilled” with the Fed’s monetary tightening.

The Fed chair gave a broadly positive outlook for the US, saying that “with solid household and business confidence, healthy levels of job creation, rising incomes and fiscal stimulus arriving, there is good reason to expect that this strong performance will continue”.

But he said the Fed’s task was currently being made tricky by the difficulty in pinpointing variables such as the longer-run rate of unemployment or the neutral rate of interest.

UK equities >>> The London Report: Mining stocks climb back


The sectors that moved the FTSE 100 this week made an about-turn on Friday with housebuilders looking exposed after a wider rally while resources bounced back from heavy selling.

Residential developers dominated the list of biggest fallers. Berkeley Group led the sector lower, down 1.8 per cent, with Barratt Developments down 0.8 per cent and Persimmon weaker by 1.4 per cent.

The selling came after data showed a decline in the the number of mortgages approved in July, at just under 40,000.

Earlier in the week, half-year results from Persimmon, the biggest UK housebuilder, eased concern at the impact of rising UK interest rates on the sector. But the mood changed on Friday.

The resource sector rebounded, coming back into demand after a wider run lower. The selling, sparked by worries about the outlook for global growth and falling metals demand, looked to have gone too far.

Antofagasta, the Chilean copper miner, was among the biggest gainers on the FTSE, up 3.6 per cent. On the list of the top 10 risers, five were miners by mid-session. Following this trend was BHP Billiton, up 2.2 per cent.

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