Oil rises as Saudi Arabia says producers will cooperate beyond 2018

A group of oil producers including OPEC and Russia, the world’s biggest crude producer, started to withhold production in January last year to prop up prices. (Reuters)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Oil rises as Saudi Arabia says producers will cooperate beyond 2018

SINGAPORE: Oil prices climbed on Monday, pushed higher by comments from Saudi Arabia that cooperation between oil producers who are currently withholding supplies would continue beyond 2018.
Strong global economic growth and a drop in US drilling activity also supported crude, traders said.
Brent crude futures were at $68.89 a barrel at 0315 GMT, up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close. Brent on January 15 rose to $70.37, its highest since December 2014.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.61 a barrel, up 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement. WTI climbed to $64.89 on January 16, also its highest since December 2014.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and de-facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said on Sunday major oil producers were in agreement they should continue cooperating on production after their deal on supply cuts expires this year.
“There is a readiness to continue cooperation beyond 2018 ... The mechanism hasn’t been determined yet, but there is a consensus to continue,” Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in Oman.
A group of oil producers including OPEC and Russia, the world’s biggest crude producer, started to withhold production in January last year to prop up prices. The deal is set to expire at the end of 2018.
In the US, declining drilling activity for new oil production further supported crude.
US drillers cut five oil rigs in the week to Jan. 19, bringing the count down to 747, energy services firm Baker Hughes said on Friday.
Despite this, the rig count in 2017 and early this year remains much higher than in 2016, resulting in a 16 percent rise in US production since mid-2016, to 9.75 million barrels per day.
Beyond supplies, strong global economic growth was also supporting oil prices.
“During the last four quarters, the underlying global growth dynamic began to shift... Global growth has become synchronized and accelerated above trend,” US bank Morgan Stanley said over the weekend in a note.
In the latest indicator, Japanese manufacturing sentiment in January jumped to an 11-year high, the Reuters Tankan poll showed on Monday, highlighting the optimism driven by nearly two years of economic expansion.
Despite the well-supported market, analysts warned oil markets had lost some steam since their peak early last week.
Bernstein Energy said on Monday that oil inventories might start rising soon due to a slowdown in demand which typically happens at the end of the northern hemisphere winter.
“We expect... an end to the strong (inventory) draws we have seen... With the strong correlation between inventories and crude prices, this perhaps means we should expect crude prices to moderate in the near term,” Bernstein said.


US in criminal probe of China's Huawei

Updated 17 January 2019
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US in criminal probe of China's Huawei

  • The Wall Street Journal said the US justice department is looking into allegations of theft of trade secrets from Huawei's US business partners
  • Huawei forcefully denied accusations that his firm engaged in espionage on behalf of the Chinese government

WASHINGTON: US authorities are in the "advanced" stages of a criminal probe that could result in an indictment of Chinese technology giant Huawei, a report said Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, said the Department of Justice is looking into allegations of theft of trade secrets from Huawei's US business partners, including a T-Mobile robotic device used to test smartphones.
Huawei and the Department of Justice declined to comment on the media report.
However, Huawei noted that "Huawei and T-Mobile settled their disputes in 2017 following a US jury verdict finding neither damage, unjust enrichment nor willful and malicious conduct by Huawei in T-Mobile's trade secret claim."
The move would further escalate tensions between the US and China after the arrest last year in Canada of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who is the daughter of the company founder.
The case of Meng, under house arrest awaiting proceedings, has inflamed US-China and Canada-China relations.
Two Canadians have been detained in China since Meng's arrest and a third has been sentenced to death on drug trafficking charges -- moves observers see as attempts by Beijing to pressure Ottawa over her case.
Huawei, the second-largest global smartphone maker and biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, has for years been under scrutiny in the US over purported links to the Chinese government.
Huawei's reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei, in a rare media interview Tuesday, forcefully denied accusations that his firm engaged in espionage on behalf of the Chinese government.
The tensions come amid a backdrop of President Donald Trump's efforts to get more manufacturing on US soil and slap hefty tariffs on Chinese goods for what he claims are unfair trade practices by Beijing.
In a related move, lawmakers introduced a bill to ban the export of American parts and components to Chinese telecom companies that are in violation of US export control or sanctions laws -- with Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE the likely targets.
"Huawei is effectively an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party whose founder and CEO was an engineer for the People's Liberation Army," said Republican Senator Tom Cotton, one of the bill's sponsors.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said in the same statement: "Huawei and ZTE are two sides of the same coin. Both companies have repeatedly violated US laws, represent a significant risk to American national security interests and need to be held accountable."
Last year, Trump reached a deal with ZTE that eases tough financial penalties on the firm for helping Iran and North Korea evade American sanctions.
Trump said his decision in May to spare ZTE came following an appeal by Chinese President Xi Jinping to help save Chinese jobs.