Saudi doubts extension to oil output cap needed

Khalid Al-Falih, minister of energy, industrial and mineral resources, speaks during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 17 January 2017

Saudi doubts extension to oil output cap needed

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khaled Al-Falih said Monday it was “unlikely” oil producers would need to extend a six-month cap on output, pointing to a pick-up in global demand.
“Based on my judgment today, I think it is unlikely that we will need to continue” after June, Falih told reporters at an energy forum in Abu Dhabi.
“Demand will pick up in the summer and we want to make sure that the markets continue to be supplied well and we don’t want to create a shortage or a squeeze,” he added.
Falih said oil markets began rebalancing in 2016, which “will have its full impact in the first half” of this year.
“Of course, there are many variables that could come into play between now and June. At that time, we’ll be able to assess,” he said.
Falih said all concerned producers have expressed “their willingness to extend if necessary.”
“The extension will only happen if there is a need, and if there is a need we will do it,” he added.
The UAE’s Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said Wednesday it was too early to consider extending the deal.
Oil prices were down on Monday due to doubts that large crude producers will reduce production as promised and on expectations that US production would increase again this year.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 32.5 million bpd from Jan. 1 in an attempt to clear global oversupply that has depressed prices for more than two years.
Russia and other key exporters outside OPEC have said they will also cut output.
But global oil production remains high and, with inventories near record levels in many areas, investors doubt that OPEC and its allies can trim output enough to push up prices.
Benchmark Brent crude oil was down 4 cents a barrel at $55.41 by 11:14 a.m. EST (1613 GMT) and US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 10 cents at $52.27 a barrel.
“Cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC countries have just started and it will take some time for them to filter through,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB Markets in Oslo.
“We do not really expect the oil price to strengthen much more in the first quarter of 2017.”
Rising US oil output is also preventing crude from climbing.
Goldman Sachs said it expects year-on-year US oil production to rise by 235,000 bpd in 2017, taking into account wells that have been drilled and are likely to start producing in the first half of the year.
US oil output is now at 8.95 million bpd, up from less than 8.5 million bpd in June last year and at similar levels to 2014, when overproduction send the market into a tailspin.
Russian oil and gas condensate production averaged 11.1 million bpd for Jan. 1-15, two energy industry sources said on Monday, down only 100,000 bpd from December. Russia has committed to a 300,000 bpd cut during the first half of 2017.


Powell: No clear hint on rates but says Fed will aid economy

Updated 23 August 2019

Powell: No clear hint on rates but says Fed will aid economy

  • The outlook for the US economy, Powell said, remains favorable but continues to face risks
  • Trump, who has relentlessly attacked Powell and the Fed over its rate policies, kept up his verbal assaults on Twitter

WASHINGTON: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sent no clear signal Friday that the Fed will further cut interest rates this year but said it would “act as appropriate” to sustain the expansion — phrasing that analysts see as suggesting rate cuts.
Powell said President Donald Trump’s trade wars have complicated the Fed’s ability to set interest rates and have contributed to a global economic slowdown.
Speaking to a gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell didn’t give financial markets explicit guidance on whether or how many rate cuts might be coming the rest of the year. The Fed cut rates last month for the first time in a decade, and financial markets have baked in the likelihood of more rate cuts this year.
The outlook for the US economy, Powell said, remains favorable but continues to face risks. He pointed to increasing evidence of a global economic slowdown and suggested that uncertainty from Trump’s trade wars has contributed to it.
Reacting to the speech Friday, Trump, who has relentlessly attacked Powell and the Fed over its rate policies, kept up his verbal assaults on Twitter:
“As usual, the Fed did NOTHING!” Trump tweeted. “It is incredible that they can ‘speak’without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly. We have a very strong dollar and a very weak Fed. I will work “brilliantly” with both, and the US will do great.”
Trump added:
“My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powel (sic) or Chairman Xi?“
Powell’s speech comes against the backdrop of a vulnerable economy, with the financial world seeking clarity on whether last month’s rate decision likely marked the start of a period of easier credit.
The confusion only heightened in the days leading to the Jackson Hole conference, at which Powell gave the keynote address. Minutes of the Fed’s July meeting released Wednesday showed that although officials voted 8-2 to cut their benchmark rate by a quarter-point, there was a wider divergence of opinion on the committee than the two dissenting votes against the rate cut had indicated.
The minutes showed that two Fed officials favored a more aggressive half-point rate cut, while some others adopted the polar opposite view: They felt the Fed shouldn’t cut rates at all.
The minutes depicted the rate cut as a “mid-cycle adjustment,” the phrase Powell had used at his news conference after the rate cut. That wording upset traders who interpreted the remark as suggesting that the Fed might not be preparing for a series of rate cuts to support an economy that’s struggling with a global slowdown and escalating uncertainty from President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.
There was even a difference of opinion among the Fed members who favored a rate cut, the minutes showed, with some concerned most about subpar inflation and others worried more about the threats to economic growth.
Comments Thursday from Fed officials gathering in Jackson Hole reflected the committee’s sharp divisions, including some reluctance to cut rates at least until the economic picture changes.
“I think we should stay here for a while and see how things play out,” said Patrick Harker, the president of the Fed’s Philadelphia regional bank.
Esther George, president of the Fed’s Kansas City regional bank and one of the dissenting votes in July, said, “While I see downside risk, I wasn’t ready to act on that relative to the performance of the economy.”
George said she saw some areas of strength, including very low unemployment and inflation now closer to the Fed’s target level. She said her decision on a possible future rate cut would depend on forthcoming data releases.
Robert Kaplan, president of the Fed’s Dallas branch indicated that he might be prepared to support further rate cuts.
If “we are seeing some weakness in manufacturing and global growth, then it may be good to take some action,” Kaplan said.
George was interviewed on Fox Business Network; Harker and Kaplan spoke on CNBC.
The CME Group, which tracks investor bets on central bank policy, is projecting the likelihood that the Fed will cut rates at least twice more before year’s end.
Adding to the pressures on the Fed, Trump has kept up his attacks on the central bank and on Powell personally, arguing that Fed officials have kept rates too high and should be cutting them aggressively.
Trump has argued that a full percentage-point rate reduction in coming months would be appropriate — a suggestion that most economists consider extravagantly excessive as well as an improper intrusion on the Fed’s political independence.
The president contends that lower rates in other countries have caused the dollar to rise in value and thereby hurt US export sales.
“Our Federal Reserve does not allow us to do what we must do,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “They put us at a disadvantage against our competition.”
Earlier in the week, he had told reporters, “If the Fed would do its job, you would see a burst of growth like you have never seen before.”
Powell has insisted that the White House criticism has had no effect on the Fed’s deliberations over interest rate policy.