Oil rises as output cut extension expected

An oil pump is seen operating in the Permian Basin near Midland, Texas, U.S., in this May 3, 2017 photo. (Reuters)
Updated 20 May 2017
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Oil rises as output cut extension expected

LONDON: Oil prices rose on Friday on growing expectations that big crude exporters will extend output cuts to curb a persistent glut in inventories.
Brent crude was up 77 cents at $53.28 at 1328 GMT, its highest since April 21, while US benchmark crude oil was up 67 cents at $50.02.
Since the start of March, the Brent price has swung from more than $56 a barrel to less than $47 as opinion swayed over whether cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers will offset rising US output.
“The battle between bulls and bears is raging on oil,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
“On the one hand, you have traders who worry about the efficacy of OPEC’s oil cuts on inventory levels. On the other, there are those who are focused on the real drawdowns that have started to occur in US oil stocks over the past month or so,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia have said they see a need for an extension to output reductions. The initial agreement between OPEC and other producers was for cuts of 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to run through the first half of 2017.
OPEC and other producers are due to discuss an extension during an OPEC meeting on Thursday.
“One of the biggest difficulties facing OPEC, however, is that there is a lag between output cuts and inventory changes,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.
It said OPEC-led cuts take about three quarters to start drawing down inventories but US shale producers can ramp up output in just four quarters to fill in the gap left.
Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft said on Thursday it was ready to stick to crude output agreements with OPEC.
“I think the cuts are enough to stabilize the market. I think they will likely bring some stock draws but I don't think it will bring the stock draws that OPEC is hoping for,” said Olivier Jakob, managing director at Petromatrix.


Global carmakers show off SUVs, electrics as China promises reforms

Updated 3 min 58 sec ago
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Global carmakers show off SUVs, electrics as China promises reforms

BEIJING: Global carmakers touted their latest electric and SUV models in Beijing on Wednesday, as China promises a more level playing field in the world’s largest auto market where domestic vehicles are making major inroads.
Industry behemoths like Volkswagen, Daimler, Toyota, Nissan, Ford and others are displaying more than 1,000 models and dozens of concept cars at the Beijing auto show.
Thousands of Chinese auto enthusiasts are expected to wander the halls of the mega exhibition center this week, with electric cars and gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles grabbing the spotlight.
Nissan presented its first Made in China electric car produced for Chinese consumers, the four-door Sylphy Zero Emission, with a drive range of 338 kilometers.
“The new Sylphy Zero Emission is the next step in our electrification strategy for China,” said Jose Munoz, Nissan’s chief performance officer, adding that the company will unveil 20 electrified models over the next five years.
Auto executives may have their minds on the boiling trade war between Beijing and Washington, with every twist and turn fanning fears that it could bring their plans for China to a screeching halt.
But last week Beijing announced it will liberalize foreign ownership limits in the sector, a move seen as a possible olive branch to President Donald Trump, who has railed against China’s policies in the sector.
China currently restricts foreign auto firms to a maximum 50 percent ownership of joint ventures with local companies.
The changes will end shareholding limits for new energy vehicle firms as soon as this year, followed by commercial vehicles in 2020 and passenger cars in 2022.
Foreign automakers who account for more than half of vehicle sales in China have cautiously welcomed the changes, with VW saying it has “strong” local partners in their joint ventures.
“This will have no impact on our JVs. But the overreaching principle is important. Hopefully, liberalization will as well help for fair competition, and having a level playing field,” Jochem Heizmann, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, told reporters.
The show comes as China’s market hits a transition period — the explosive growth in car sales seen over the last decade slowed last year and data from early this year point to a continued slump for many vehicle types.
Chinese consumers are following their American peers toward SUVs while policymakers in Beijing push an all-electric future.
Ride-sharing is also on the up. On Tuesday Didi — China’s answer to Uber — announced it had joined forces with some 30 partners, including Renault and Volkswagen, to develop vehicles and products specifically tailored for ride-sharing.
Accounting for some 28.9 million car sales last year, the Chinese market could soon match those of the European Union and United States combined.
General Motors sold over four million cars here last year, more than in the US. Volkswagen sold more than three million, roughly six times its home market.
But domestic firms are outselling foreign firms in the SUV segment.
In the electric car market the figures are even more lopsided, as Beijing has heaped money on projects to dominate what it sees as the future.
At the auto show, the domestic upstarts have a separate exhibition hall mostly to themselves — 124 of the 174 electric car models on display are homegrown.
Government subsidies help consumers purchase the green cars, while policymakers are planning a quota system to force producers to build electric vehicles, with plans to one day phase out gas vehicles altogether.
Volkswagen announced Tuesday investments of €15 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles in China by 2022.
“China is our second home,” recently installed chief executive Herbert Diess said at a Beijing press conference, with its market set to be “the biggest” worldwide for electric cars.