Japan said on Friday its economy had slowed in the April-to-June quarter amid escalating trade tensions between China and the United States.
The economy expanded at an annualized rate of 1.8 per cent for the third straight quarter of growth, slowing from the 2.8-per-cent expansion in the first three-month period, the Cabinet Office said in a statement.
The reading beat the 0.4-per-cent growth forecast by analysts polled by the Nikkei Business Daily.
The country’s 10-day holiday during the imperial succession in May helped boost consumption, analysts said.
Private consumption rose 0.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter, compared with a 0.1-per-cent increase in the January-to-March period,
Corporate investment climbed 1.5 per cent, following a 0.4-per-cent rise in the previous quarter.
The office also reported exports edged down 0.1 per cent in the April-to-June period, compared with a 2-per-cent contraction in the first quarter of this year.
Imports grew 1.6 per cent in the second quarter after shrinking 4.3 per cent in the previous period.
Nigerian crude has suffered its slowest sales of the year in August, traders said, as U.S. exports of competing light, sweet grades flood traditional markets in Europe and Asia.
The changes illustrate how U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy for “energy dominance” is reshaping oil markets worldwide, as U.S. oil exports surged 260,000 barrels per day in June to a monthly record of 3.16 million BPD.
Crude from Nigeria has largely been pushed out of the U.S. market in the last decade due to booming domestic output. Exports to the United States slid to zero for three weeks in July, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
But now shale oil from the U.S. Permian basin is pouring ever more into traditional strongholds for Nigerian oil in Western Europe, India and Indonesia.
Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of NNPC: says the setback will not be for long
Both Nigeria and the United States are big producers of the kind of light, sweet grades that are ideal for refining into gasoline.
According to IHS Markit, Europe has imported around 46% of Nigeria’s oil since the beginning of 2019, India nearly 18%, and the rest of Asia about another 10%.
“They’re facing bigger competition from the U.S., and in the last few weeks, U.S. exports have really picked up,” one major buyer of West African crude told News men.
As many as forty cargoes for export in August were still in need of buyers when Nigeria began publishing its preliminary programme for September exports beginning on Jul. 18.
It was the largest oversupply so far in 2019, with about 25 cargoes the monthly norm.
Though the excess has begun to clear, in part due to energy majors absorbing much of the excess into their own refining systems, the discounts sellers made to attract interest has lowered price expectations for Nigerian exports for September.
“They’ve got a big volume still remaining, and though the number of cargoes left for August is in the single digits, it seems to be taking longer and longer to clear lately. It’s not a pretty picture,” the crude buyer said.
A fire and explosion on June 21 which shut down the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery – a consistent buyer of Nigerian oil – only added to the marketing challenge.
Up to two month’s worth of light sweet oil, or about 20 million barrels, from West Africa and the North Sea which had been scheduled to arrive there were rerouted elsewhere at steep discounts, and prices have not since recovered in either region.
“Demand has been dire. (We) need margins to improve quickly and dramatically,” one seller of Nigerian oil said.
Traders said the competition for European demand was helping drive down offers for similar cargoes elsewhere.
“Imports of U.S. crude into Europe … (are) obviously having an impact on sweet demand in other regions.”
In a statement in May, the White House hailed U.S. inroads into far-flung markets “We are exporting more and more energy as production soars and President Trump negotiates better market access for our producers,” it said.
Mele Kolo Kyari, the new managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), assured Reuters in an interview that buyers would not soon lose interest.
“I think the advantage we’ve had is the quality of our crude,” he said. “We know (buyers) will come.”
Tanzanian investigative journalist, Erick Kabendera, sits inside the Kisutu Residents Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Aug. 5, 2019. (Reuters)
As a result of the arrest and arraignment of a freelance investigative journalist in Tanzania, Erick Kabendera, both the United Kingdom and United States have urged the authorities in the country on Friday to guarantee due process of law in the case.
The journalist’s lawyer and rights groups had called his trial ‘politically motivated’.
Kabendera was charged on Monday with money laundering, tax evasion and leading organized crime.
He was arrested the previous week over what police said were issues concerning his citizenship.
Press quoted rights groups as saying press freedom in Tanzania had deteriorated since President John Magufuli was elected in 2015.
His administration is reported to have shut down newspapers, arrested opposition leaders and activists and restricted political rallies. The government rejects charges that its policies are authoritarian.
“The irregular handling of the arrest, detention, and indictment of investigative journalist Erick Kabendera, including the fact that he was denied access to a lawyer in the early stages of his detention, (is) contrary to the Criminal Procedures Act,” the U.S. and British said in a joint statement.
Emmanuel Buhohela, spokesman at Tanzania’s foreign affairs ministry, said that the matter regarding Kabendera is before the country’s courts of law. “They should let justice follow its due course,” he told Reuters.
Kabendera, 39, has written for national and international publications, including The Guardian and The Times of London. He published a story last month in the regional newspaper The East African about purported internal divisions within the ruling party before a presidential election in 2020.
The court has adjourned until Aug. 19, when the case will come up for mention.
Money laundering is not a bailable offence in Tanzania.