Items filtered by date: Friday, 07 December 2018

Oil prices fell along with weak stock markets on Thursday, but trading was tepid ahead of a meeting by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The meeting is expected to result in a supply cut aimed at draining a glut that has pulled down crude prices by 30 per cent since October.

International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at 61.04 dollars per barrel at 0531 GMT, down 52 cents, or 0.8 per cent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at 52.38 dollars per barrel, down 51 cents, or 1 per cent.

Traders said oil prices were being weighed down by weak global financial markets, which saw stock markets tumble on Thursday.

Since early October, crude oil has lost around 30 per cent of its value amid surging supply and fears that an economic downturn will erode fuel demand.

“A massive liquidation in long positions by money managers has dampened market confidence on oil prices considerably,” said Benjamin Lu of Singaporean brokerage Phillip Futures.

OPEC is meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday to decide its production policy.

Led by Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s crude oil production PRODN-TOTAL has risen by 4.1 per cent since mid-2018, to 33.31 million barrels per day (bpd).

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

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

Russia, a major oil producer but not a member of OPEC, will meet with the producer cartel on Friday to discuss production levels, and it is widely expected that a supply cut will be agreed.

“Markets…believe the production cut deal will be in range of 1-1.3 million bpd,” ANZ bank said on Thursday.

 


Source: NAN

Published in Business

President Emmerson Mnangagwa says his government was ready to seize and redistribute tracts of idle farmland mostly owned by his top Zanu PF allies.

This follows a land audit which unearthed multiple farm ownership by influential officials in violation of the one-man-one-farm policy by government. 

"The land reform program is done and dusted," Mnangagwa said while addressing some traditional leaders in Kadoma on Monday. "As government, we have embarked on a land commission audit. The audit has unearthed that most of the bigwigs have more than one farm."

To address the anomaly, President Mnangagwa said government was going ahead with plans to repossess the farms for redistribution to other Zimbabweans who did not benefit from the country's controversial land reform process in the past 18 years. Mnangagwa also said his government would also move to downsize some of the farms considered too big.

"The preliminary reports have shown us that most senior officials within the party (Zanu PF) have more than one farm. 

"As government, we are going to address the anomaly. We are going to repossess those farms and redistribute them. We are going to downsize on some of the farms.

"There are some individuals, very influential, whom we cannot name who have more than one farm and we are going after them," he said.

The Zanu PF led government, then under the now former President Robert Mugabe, in 2000 embarked on a violent land reform process which saw militant war veterans storm white owned farms and grabbing implements, livestock and farm houses.

The chaotic exercise saw some locals allocated pieces of land to both build homes and to fend for their families. Some influential government officials and security bosses used their stamina to grab bigger and more fertile pieces of land with rich infrastructure while some even went for more than a single farm. Although he led the one-man-one-farm mantra, then Mugabe was this year said to be owner of 21 farms, some of which he secretly leased to white farmers.

However, other reports linked the once feared leader to a total 13 farms under his and family ownership.

"I am still receiving evidence of what the (former) first family had. When that process is complete they will select one farm and the rest will be given elsewhere," Mnangagwa told the Independent Foreign Service in a wide-ranging interview August this year.

"It's not a question of voluntary giving up, but about complying with the policy."

Mnangagwa, who is often regarded as a reformist, has refused to return land into the hands of its former white owners saying the land reform process was "irreversible".

 

Credit: New Zimbabwe

Published in Agriculture
U.S. companies likely maintained a solid pace of hiring in November while increasing wages for workers, suggesting the economy remains strong enough for the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates in 2019.
 
The Labor Department will publish its closely watched monthly employment report on Friday against a backdrop of a steep sell-off on Wall Street and a partial inversion of the U.S. yield curve, which have stoked fears of a recession.
 
Stocks have been mostly hurt by uncertainty whether a 90-day truce agreed by President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping over the weekend will hold and lead to a lasting easing of trade tensions between the world's two largest economies.
 
Nonfarm payrolls probably increased by 200,000 jobs last month, according to a survey of economists, after surging 250,000 in October. The unemployment rate is forecast steady at near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent.
 
Average hourly earnings are seen up 0.3 percent in November after gaining 0.2 percent in October. That would leave the annual increase in wages at 3.1 percent, matching October's jump, which was the biggest gain since April 2009.
 
A strong employment report would allay fears about the economy's health and increase the probability of the Fed raising interest rates more than once next year.
 
"Since the Fed is now very data-dependent, stronger data should give the market more confidence that the Fed will continue hiking in 2019," said Veronica Clark, an economist at Citigroup in New York. "We think the Fed will go twice next year."
 
Financial markets are pricing in one rate hike from the Fed in 2019, compared with expectations for possibly two rate hikes a month earlier, according to CME Group's FedWatch program. The U.S. central bank is expected to increase borrowing costs on Dec. 18-19 for the fourth time this year.
 
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell last month appeared to signal the central bank's three-year tightening cycle was drawing to a close, saying its policy rate was now "just below" estimates of a level that neither cools nor boosts a healthy economy.
 
Minutes of the Fed's November policy meeting published last week showed nearly all officials agreed another rate increase was "likely to be warranted fairly soon," but also opened debate on when to pause further hikes.
 
THE AMAZON EFFECT
 
Wage growth could surprise on the upside after online retail giant Amazon.com Inc raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour for U.S. employees last month in the face of tightening labor market conditions.
 
Soft October data on the housing market, business spending on equipment as well as a jump in the trade deficit to a 10-year high have heightened fears the economy is slowing.
 
Growth forecasts for the fourth quarter are around a 2.7 percent annualized rate. The economy grew at a 3.5 percent pace in the third quarter.
 
Job gains have averaged 212,500 per month this year, double the roughly 100,000 needed to keep up with growth in the working-age population. But there are signs of potential speed bumps ahead. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits is near eight-month highs.
 
General Motors has announced plans to cut up to 15,000 jobs in North America next year, which will affect some assembly plants in the United States.
 
For now, the labor market is on solid footing and is seen supporting the economy through at least early 2019, after which growth is expected to significantly slow as the stimulus from the Trump administration's $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades.
 
"Even if layoffs are beginning to pick up in some areas, the fact that many industries are reporting worker shortages and unfilled vacancies suggests that aggregate payrolls could continue to expand," said Lou Crandall, chief economist of Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.
 
Hiring last month was likely across all sectors. An early Thanksgiving is expected to have boosted retail employment while transportation and warehousing payrolls probably rose, driven by seasonal hiring.
 
However, an unusually cold November probably slowed hiring at construction sites after companies added 30,000 workers to their payrolls in October.
 
Manufacturing employment is forecast increasing by 20,000 jobs last month after rising 32,000 in October.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Economy
China's Iranian oil imports are set to rebound in December after two state-owned refiners in the world's largest oil importer began using the nation's waiver from U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to industry sources and data on Refinitiv Eikon.
 
Sinopec resumed Iran oil imports shortly after Tehran's biggest crude buyer received its waiver in November, while China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC)will restart lifting from its own Iranian production in December, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
 
Reuters reported in November that China's waiver on U.S. sanctions allows it to buy 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil for 180 days.
 
Top Chinese energy group CNPC, which has invested billions of dollars in Iranian oilfields, is ready to load its full share of production from December, said an oil executive with direct knowledge of CNPC's Iran activities.
 
The executive, who asked not to be named, estimated CNPC will load at least two million barrels a month from December, doubling previous levels to help compensate for cuts made before sanctions on Iran's oil exports went into effect on Nov 5.
 
Before the waivers had been announced, Sinopec, Asia's largest oil refiner, had planned to stop loading Iran oil in November, but resumed imports within days of getting the exemption, a second source said, also asking to remain unnamed.
 
"We continued lifting Iranian oil in November because we received the waiver," the second source said.
 
Sinopec and CNPC will likely use up the 360,000 bpd of Iranian oil imports allowed to China under the waiver.
 
Another source said Iranian oil is "attractively priced" versus rival supplies from the Middle East.
 
For November and December, Iranian Heavy crude sold to Asia has been priced at $1.25 a barrel below Saudi's Arab Medium, a discount not seen since 2004.
 
The source also said many Chinese refiners were geared toward processing Iranian crude grades.
 
At 360,000 bpd, China's purchases would still be 45 percent less than the average 655,000 bpd imported during the January-September period.
 
The rise in Iranian oil supply and surging production from the United States, Russia and OPEC countries has pulled down crude oil prices by almost a third since October.
 
Ahead of the sanctions being implemented in early November, China's crude oil imports from Iran fell to 1.05 million tonnes (247,260 bpd) in October, the lowest since May 2010, Chinese customs data shows.
 
Data from Refinitiv Eikon, however, shows that 2.77 million tonnes of Iranian crude were discharged into Chinese ports in October, including into bonded storage tanks in Dalian.
 
By December, China's Iran oil imports could reach almost 3 million tonnes, the Eikon data showed. A total 2.51 million tonnes of Iranian crude were discharged into Dalian in October and November, according to the data.
 
Other major Iranian oil buyers, including India, South Korea and Japan, are also increasing or resuming orders.
 
It is still not clear whether Iran will be able to export much oil after the U.S. sanctions waivers expire around the start of May.
 
 
Source: The Routers
 
Published in Business

Issues related to tax and residence permits are frustrating Chinese investors interested in doing business in Tanzania, the Chinese ambassador, Ms Wang Ke, has said.

Ms Wang was speaking during a forum aimed at promoting investment and trade partnerships between Chinese and Tanzanian companies held in the city yesterday. It brought together 136 companies from Tanzania and 70 from China.

The envoy stressed the need for increasing efforts to improve the business environment in the country. The business community has repeatedly complained about overstated tax estimates and multiple taxes and absence of a one-stop centre that makes it convenient for foreign investors to register and apply for residence permit in one place.

"We understand that the government has noticed and attached great importance to this by taking measures to make improvements," she said.

According to the ambassador, China has increased its investments in the country, overtaking the UK as the number one source of investments in Tanzania. She said Chinese Investment volume has reached $7 billion in sectors that include energy and infrastructure and that Chinese companies were ready to invest in other areas including the cashew nut sub-sector.

For his part, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) Executive Director Godfrey Simbeye said it was important that the government worked to improve the business environment to attract more investors. "The government is trying but... it is discouraging that a Chinese investor producing tiles has to compete with fake products for markets," he said.

For his part, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment, Mr Joseph Kakunda, said the government has noted all the concerns raised by the ambassador and they were being addressed. He said the government was willing and ready to provide the required support.

He said the government has introduced an online portal where foreign companies can apply and register from their countries of origin before coming to Tanzania for final processes.

On trade between the two countries, the minister said: "We have been experiencing a huge trade imbalance by importing more of value added products and that is why we are looking for investors in agro processing, manufacturing and other vital sectors," he said.

He said the country produces 275,000 tonnes of cashew nuts annually and has the capacity to add value to 127,000 tonnes. However, he noted so far only 30,000 tonnes are processed for value addition.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the China Council for Promoting South-South Cooperation Lyu Xinhua said they have launched an English website for international trade where different countries can reach partners for possible investments.

 

Credit: Citizen

Published in Business

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