The prices of crude oil rose on Monday as hopes for an end to the year long tariff row between the United States and China approached a close.
 
Also the production cut deal by members and allies of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, contributed to price rally.
 
International Brent futures were at 65.25 dollars a barrel at 07:13 GMT, up 18 cents, or 0.3 per cent, from their last close, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at 55.94 dollars per barrel, up 14 cents or 0.3 per cent.
 
There are indications that US and China are close to a deal that would roll back US tariffs on at least 200 billion dollar worth of Chinese goods, just as Beijing has also pledged structural economic changes and elimination of retaliatory tariffs on US goods, a source briefed on negotiations said on Sunday in Washington.
 
The “substantive progress” China and the US have made in their trade talks has been “well-received” in both countries and around the world, a senior Chinese official said on Monday.
 
According to a Reuters’ survey, Supply from OPEC fell to a four-year low in February, as top exporter, Saudi Arabia and its allies over-delivered on the group’s supply pact while Venezuelan output registered a further involuntary decline.
 
“OPEC exports are off by over 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) since November,” Barclays bank said in a note released on Sunday.
 
“The supply picture looks generally tighter this year,” said energy analysts at Fitch Solutions in a note on Monday, adding they expected Brent to average 73 dollars per barrel in 2019.
 
There are also indications that Oil prices have been further pushed up by US sanctions against OPEC-members Iran and Venezuela. Barclays bank is of the view that this has resulted in a reduction of around two million bpd in global crude supply.
 
There are also signs that the US oil production boom of the past years, which has seen crude output rise by more than two million bpd since early 2018 to more than 12 million bpd, may slow down.
 
The U. S. has congratulated Nigeria on its successful presidential election and President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election.
 
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, in a statement, noted the assessments of international and domestic observer missions affirming the overall credibility of the election.
 
Pompeo said the United States’ assessment was “in spite of localised violence and irregularities”.
 
He called on all Nigerians to ensure successful Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections on March 9.
 
Pompeo said: “The United States congratulates the people of Nigeria on a successful presidential election, and President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election.
 
“We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the election and condemn those whose acts of violence harmed Nigerians and the electoral process.
 
“We note the assessments of international and domestic observer missions affirming the overall credibility of the election, despite localised violence and irregularities.
 
“We also congratulate all the other candidates for their peaceful participation in the electoral process.
 
“We call on all Nigerians to ensure successful state elections next week.
 
“Going forward, the United States remains committed to working together with Nigeria to achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations”.
 
In the presidential election, held on February 23, Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes and his closest challenger, People’s Democratic Party’s candidate and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar polled 11,255,978 votes to emerge a runner-up.
 
Buhari, who was declared re-elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission, also won in 19 states, to defeat other 72 candidates including Atiku, who won 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory, to occupy the second position.
The prices of crude oil declined on Thursday on the back of a record high production by the United States and weakening factory output in China and Japan.
 
International Brent crude prices were at $66.20 per barrel at 0525 GMT, after losing 19 cents, or 0.3 per cent from their last close.
 
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures were at $56.90 per barrel, declining four cents from their last settlement.
 
American crude oil production has surged to an unprecedented 12.1 million barrels per day over the last year.
 
Traders are also of the view that China’s weakening economy also weighed on oil prices.
 
Factory activity in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, shrank for a third straight month in February as export orders fell at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis a decade ago, official data showed on Thursday.
 
Amid weak demand from China, oil producers are having to cut prices.
 
Russia’s Surgutneftegaz is selling April-loading ESPO crude oil at the lowest level in three months, charging $2.20 to $2.40 per barrel over benchmark Dubai quotes.
 
In Japan, Asia’s second-biggest economy, factory output posted the biggest decline in a year in January as China’s slowdown affected the entire region.
 
Venezuela’s military said Tuesday it was on alert at its frontiers following threats by US President Donald Trump and suspended air and sea links with the island of Curacao ahead of a planned aid shipment.
 
Opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido has vowed to bring aid in from various points Saturday “one way or another” despite military efforts to block it.
 
But commanders doubled down on their allegiance to President Nicolas Maduro after Trump urged them to abandon him.
 
“The armed forces will remain deployed and on alert along the borders… to avoid any violations of territorial integrity,” said Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.
 
Regional commander Vladimir Quintero later confirmed media reports that Venezuela had ordered the suspension of air and sea links with Curacao and the nearby Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba and Bonaire.
 
Shipments of food and medicine for Venezuelans suffering in the country’s economic crisis have become a focus of the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido.
 
Aid is being stored in Colombia near the Venezuelan border and Guaido aims also to bring in consignments via Brazil and Curacao, which is off the coast of Venezuela.
 
A Brazilian presidential spokesman said the country was cooperating with the United States to supply aid to Venezuela but would leave it to Venezuelans to take the goods over the border.
 
Maduro says the aid plan is a smokescreen for a US invasion. He blames US sanctions and “economic war” for Venezuela’s crisis.
 
Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of the Venezuelan legislature, has appealed to military leaders to switch allegiance to him and let the aid through.
 
He has offered military commanders an amnesty if they abandon Maduro.
 
But the military high command has so far maintained its public backing for Maduro — seen as key to keeping him in power.
 
“We reiterate unrestrictedly our obedience, subordination and loyalty” to Maduro, Padrino said.
 
Guaido posted a series of tweets calling by name on senior military leaders commanding border posts to abandon Maduro.
 
He has branded Maduro illegitimate, saying the elections that returned the socialist leader to power last year were fixed.
 
The United States and some 50 other countries back Guaido as interim president.
 
Trump has refused to rule out US military action in Venezuela. He raised the pressure on Monday, issuing a warning to the Venezuelan military.
 
He told them that if they continue to support Maduro, “you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything.”
 
Padrino rejected Trump’s threat, branding the US president “arrogant.”
 
If foreign powers try to help install a new government by force, they will have to do so “over our dead bodies,” Padrino said.
 
Venezuela’s deputy military attache at the UN announced Tuesday he was siding with Guaido.
 
“I declare myself to be in total and absolute disobedience to the illegally constituted government of Mr. Nicolas Maduro,” Colonel Pedro Jose Chirinos said in a video posted on social media.
 
Since Guaido declared himself interim president on January 23, he has received the support of an army colonel and an air force general, neither of whom actually have any troops under their command, a retired air force major general and a number of lower-level officers.
Indian Oil Corp, the country’s top refiner, has signed its first annual deal to buy U.S. oil, paying about 1.5 billion dollars for 60,000 barrels a day in the year to March 2020 to diversify its crude sources, its chairman said on Monday.
 
IOC is the first Indian state refiner to buy U.S. oil under an annual contract, in a deal that will also help boost trade between New Delhi and Washington.
 
The company has previously purchased U.S. oil from spot markets and signed a mini-term deal in August to buy 6 million barrels of U.S. oil between November and January.
 
IOC chairman Sanjiv Singh said the annual contract will begin from April. He declined to give the name of the seller or pricing details, citing confidentiality.
 
A trade source, who is not authorized to speak to media, said IOC has signed the deal with Norwegian oil company Equinor.
 
Equinor, which has set up an office in New Delhi to support oil marketing and trading, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
 
Indian Oil buys about 75 per cent of its oil needs through long-term deals, mostly with OPEC nations.
 
The term deal will help cut IOC’s dependence on OPEC crude, said Sri Paravaikkarasu, head of east of Suez oil for consultants FGE in Singapore.
 
“Lots of geopolitical issues are going around. We expect lots of volume going away from Venezuela, west Africa and Iran, so it makes sense to have guaranteed term supplies from the U.S., where crude production is increasing,” she said.
 
“There is a push for diversification everywhere. South Korea is giving a freight rebate for non-Middle East crude imports,” she added.
 
India and the United States, which have developed close political and security ties, are also looking to develop bilateral trade, which stood at 126 billion dollars in 2017 but is widely seen to be performing well below its potential.
 
The two countries have set up seven groups of chief executives with top U.S. and Indian firms to boost bilateral trade in areas including energy.
 
Last week India’s top gas importer Petronet LNG signed an initial deal to invest and buy LNG from Tellurian Inc’s proposed Driftwood project in Louisiana in the United States.
 
 
NAN
 
The dollar fell versus a basket of its peers on Monday as rising expectations of a U.S.-Sino trade deal led investors to shift away from the safety of the greenback into riskier assets.
 
Both the U.S. and China reported progress in five days of negotiations in Beijing last week, although the White House said much work remains to be done to force changes in Chinese trade behaviour.
 
Negotiations will continue next week in Washington as investors hope for an end to the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
 
“Trade is the big focus for the markets…with talks shifting from Beijing to Washington, we could get more news flow,” said Michael McCarthy, chief markets strategist at CMC Markets.
 
“I expect the euro to remain under pressure this week while dollar and yen could also fall if we see risk-aversion based on negative trade news flow.”
 
The Aussie gained 0.2 per cent to 0.7154 dollar, after firming 0.48 per cent on Friday on hopes of a U.S.-China trade breakthrough. The kiwi dollar gained around 0.3 per cent on the dollar to 0.6886 dollar.
 
In Asia, the yen was steady versus the greenback at 110.53.
 
The escalating trade dispute between the world’s largest economies have kept markets highly volatile since last year.
 
U.S. duties on 200 billion dollars worth of Chinese imports are set to rise from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.
 
This happens if no deal is reached by March 1 to address U.S. demands that China curb forced technology transfers and better enforce intellectual property rights.
 
The dollar index, a gauge of its value versus six major peers, was down by 0.16 per cent at 96.74.
 
The index has gained 1.2 per cent so far this month in spite of weaker-than-expected U.S. data as well as a more cautious Federal Reserve, which is widely expected to keep rates steady this year due to a slowdown in growth and muted inflation.
 
The dollar index has gained mainly because of the euro, which has around 58 per cent weightage in the index.
 
The single currency was up 0.2 per cent at 1.1317 dollar in early Asian trade, after two straight weeks of losses.
 
Notwithstanding Monday’s gains, traders are betting on a weaker euro in the coming months as they expect the European Central Bank to keep its monetary policy accommodative due to low growth in the common area, tepid inflation and political uncertainties.
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to declare the situation on the border with Mexico a national emergency, in a move that would grant him vast powers and would likely be contested in Congress and in the courts.
 
Some members of Trump’s own Republican Party have expressed concerns about the national emergency, fearing both a degradation of the role of Congress and setting a precedent.
 
Democrats have long argued there is a humanitarian issue at the border but there is no national emergency.
 
The national emergency comes at the end of a process which saw Trump largely lose to Congress over funding for his proposed vast expansion of the border wall.
 
Trump pushed the federal government into the longest shutdown in history, ending last month after 35 days.
 
Trump announced his intention a day before funding for the government was again set to run out and as Congress was approving appropriations, but without cash for Trump’s wall.
 
The president has agreed to sign the funding bill and keep government open.
 
Trump is expected to take executive action to announce funding for the wall from alternative funds.
 
The entire process is being denounced by Democrats as a blatant attempt to bypass Congress, which is constitutionally viewed as having the power of the purse.
 
The appropriations bill has set aside 1.375 billion dollars for physical barriers on the border.
 
Trump campaigned on the border wall and pledged Mexico would pay for it.
 
He was also once a fierce critic of former president Barack Obama when he took executive action, evading Congress.
 
 
Oil prices fell by around 1 per cent 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 dollars per barrel at 0347 GMT, down 63 cents, or 1.2 per cent, from their last settlement.
 
International Brent crude oil futures were down 49 cents, or 0.8 per cent , at 61.61 dollars 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.
 
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 travelling 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.
 
 
Source: PmNews
US President Donald Trump has named senior Treasury Department official David Malpass to lead the World Bank.
 
If approved, he is expected to push the bank to narrow the focus of its lending to the world's poorest countries, among other changes.
 
His nomination has stirred debate, as some worry that Mr Malpass, a critic of the bank, will seek to reduce its role.
 
White House officials said Mr Malpass, a long-time Republican, would be a "pro-growth reformer".
 
At a press conference in Washington, Mr Trump praised Mr Malpass as a "strong advocate for accountability at the World Bank for a long time".
 
The president, who frequently criticises multilateral institutions, said he expected Mr Malpass to ensure that the bank's dollars "are spent effectively and wisely, serve American interests and defend American values."
 
The White House describes Mr Malpass as a "pro-growth reformer"
Who is David Malpass?
Mr Malpass, a Trump loyalist, was a senior economic adviser to the US president during his 2016 election campaign.
 
He has served as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for international affairs since August 2017.
 
The 62-year-old has criticised the World Bank, along with other institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, for being "intrusive" and "entrenched".
 
He has also pushed the bank to reduce its lending to China, which he says is too wealthy to deserve such aid, and deploys harsh practices when lending to other countries.
 
Who is Trump's World Bank pick Malpass?
The US, the World Bank's largest shareholder and a major source of its funding, has traditionally held sway over the selection process for president.
 
An American has led the institution since its start in the 1940s, when it was created to help rebuild Europe in the aftermath of World War II.
 
However, there has been increased pressure to diversify the bank's leadership, reflecting the economic rise of other countries in recent decades.
 
Counting the votes
It is not clear if other countries will propose alternatives to challenge Mr Malpass for the presidency.
 
The World Bank, which has 189 members, is accepting names until 14 March and plans to create a shortlist of up to three candidates for interviews.
 
Its executive board expects to vote on candidates before its April meeting.
 
The US controls 16% of the 25-member board's voting power.
 
European shareholders, who control another significant chunk of voting power, are also unlikely to block the pick, according to News reports.
 
The World Bank helped to fund repairs of the Kariba Dam
White House officials said Mr Malpass would champion "pro-growth" policies, emphasising the role of the private sector, increased lending transparency and more "competitive" tax systems.
 
He will also oversee implementation of reforms the US pushed last year, which coupled an increase in money for the bank with changes aimed at reducing lending to China.
 
Officials said Mr Malpass's nomination did not signal a lack of support for the organisation, which helps finance development projects with loans, credits and grants, committing more than $60bn (£46.3bn) in its most recent financial year,
 
However, they said the administration did want to see changes to make it more effective.
 
"Sometimes that does require real reform and modernising ways of doing business," a senior administration official said during a background briefing with reporters.
 
The World Bank's search was triggered by the unexpected resignation of Jim Yong Kim
If approved, Mr Malpass would replace Jim Yong Kim, a doctor and former president of Dartmouth University, who unexpectedly resigned last month.
 
Mr Kim, whose tenure had been rocky, is joining a private equity fund.
 
 
Source: PmNews
The dollar held steady against its peers on Wednesday, showing little reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address which touched upon trade and budget issues but provided investors with few surprises.
 
In an annual speech on Tuesday outlining his priorities for the coming year, President Trump said that illegal immigration was an urgent national crisis and reiterated his vow to build a border wall.
 
Trump also said any trade agreement with China “must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.”
 
The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 96.072, after briefly touching a near two-week high of 96.135.
 
“Trump’s address did not contain surprises. He did not, for example, declare a state of emergency (over border funding) nor make surprising comments about China,” said Ayako Sera, senior market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust.
 
“The fall by the Australian dollar appears to have generated more attention,” Sera added.
 
The Australian dollar tumbled after central bank chief Philip Lowe opened the door to a possible rate cut after more than a year of signaling tighter future policy.
 
In his first public speech of the year, Lowe said rates could go in either direction, depending on the labor market and inflation.
 
The Aussie dollar was last down 1 per cent at $0.7165.
 
The Reserve Bank of Australia has left its official cash rate at a record low of 1.50 per cent since August 2016 and Governor Lowe had repeatedly emphasized the next move was more likely to be up.
 
The euro was little changed at $1.1400 after slipping 0.25 per cent the previous day to its lowest since Jan. 28.
 
The single currency was pressured after a survey released on Tuesday showed euro zone businesses expanded at their weakest rate since mid-2013 at the start of the year.
 
The dollar edged down 0.15 per cent to 109.78 yen after posting a gain of 0.4 per cent overnight.
 
While the Japanese currency’s big gains against the downtrodden Aussie was seen as a factor weighing on dollar/yen, the greenback stayed in reach of a five-week peak of 110.165 yen reached on Monday.
 
The dollar has been managed to hold its ground although U.S. Treasury yields declined the previous day and pulled back from one-week highs.
 
“The dollar is managing to draw support in spite of lower Treasury yields thanks to a combination of a dovish-sounding Federal Reserve and U.S. data, which has been relatively strong on the whole recently,” said Shusuke Yamada, chief Japan FX and equity strategist at Bank Of America Merrill Lynch.
 
The Australian dollar was down more than 1 per cent at 78.66 yen.
 
The pound remained on the back foot following a slump overnight. The currency was a shade lower at $1.2950 after brushing $1.2923, its lowest since Jan. 22.
 
Sterling had lost nearly 0.7 per cent on Tuesday on a weak Purchasing Managers’ Index data and uncertainty about Brexit talks.
 
UK cabinet ministers have secretly held talks on plans to delay Brexit by eight weeks, the Telegraph newspaper reported late on Tuesday.
 
The delay would postpone Brexit to May 24. Currently, Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29. 
 
 
Source: Reuters
 
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