Oil edges up on Saudi output cut and Iran sanctions

Saudi Arabia’s production cuts come in anticipation of a slowdown in oil demand. (Reuters)
Updated 14 August 2018
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Oil edges up on Saudi output cut and Iran sanctions

  • The cut comes amid expected export declines from Iran once the US re-imposes sanctions on Tehran
  • The OPEC report said it expected world oil demand to grow by 1.43 million bpd in 2019, down from 1.64 million bpd in 2018

SINGAPORE: Oil prices inched up on Tuesday after a report from OPEC confirmed that top exporter Saudi Arabia had cut production to avert looming oversupply, although concerns over a slowdown in economic growth kept a lid on markets.
Front-month Brent crude oil futures were at $72.85 per barrel at 0658 GMT, up 25 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $67.45 per barrel.
In July, Saudi Arabia told the producer group of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that it had curbed production by 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.288 million bpd.
The cut comes amid expected export declines from Iran once the US re-imposes sanctions on Tehran’s petroleum industry from November.
OPEC’s monthly report published on Monday, which uses data from secondary sources, confirmed the Saudi cut, which traders said triggered crude’s upward move early on Tuesday.
That came despite the Saudi move coming in anticipation of a slowdown in oil demand.
The OPEC report said it expected world oil demand to grow by 1.43 million bpd in 2019, down from 1.64 million bpd in 2018.
OPEC said the demand slowdown would come on the back of potentially lower economic growth as a result of trade disputes between the United States and China as well as emerging market turmoil.
China’s economy is showing further signs of cooling as the US prepares to impose even tougher trade tariffs, with investment in the first seven months of the year slowing to a record low and retail sales softening, data showed on Tuesday.
“Data from China failed to meet market expectations, which could be another signal that the world economy is slowing down,” said Sukrit Vijayakar.


‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

Updated 26 May 2019
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‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

  • This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei
  • Another critical partner, ARM Holdings, said it was complying with the US restrictions

BEIJING: While Huawei’s founder brushes aside a US ban against his company, the telecom giant’s employees have been less sanguine, confessing fears for their future in online chat rooms.
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei declared this week the company has a hoard of microchips and the ability to make its own in order to withstand a potentially crippling US ban on using American components and software in its products.
“If you really want to know what’s going on with us, you can visit our Xinsheng Community,” Ren told Chinese media, alluding to Huawei’s internal forum partially open to viewers outside the company.
But a peek into Xinsheng shows his words have not reassured everyone within the Shenzhen-based company.
“During difficult times, what should we do as individuals?” posted an employee under the handle Xiao Feng on Thursday.
“At home reduce your debts and maintain enough cash,” Xiao Feng wrote.
“Make a plan for your financial assets and don’t be overly optimistic about your remuneration and income.”
This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei as a result of the ban.
Another critical partner, ARM Holdings — a British designer of semiconductors owned by Japanese group Softbank — said it was complying with the US restrictions.
“On its own Huawei can’t resolve this problem, we need to seek support from government policy,” one unnamed employee wrote last week, in a post that received dozens of likes and replies.
The employee outlined a plan for China to block off its smartphone market from all American components much in the same way Beijing fostered its Internet tech giants behind a “Great Firewall” that keeps out Google, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other foreign companies.
“Our domestic market is big enough, we can use this opportunity to build up domestic suppliers and our ecosystem,” the employee wrote.
For his part, Ren advocated the opposite response in his interview with Chinese media.
“We should not promote populism; populism is detrimental to the country,” he said, noting that his family uses Apple products.
Other employees strategized ways to circumvent the US ban.
One advocated turning to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao to buy the needed components. Another dangled the prospect of setting up dozens of new companies to make purchases from US suppliers.
Many denounced the US and proposed China ban McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and all-American movies and TV shows.
“First time posting under my real name: we must do our jobs well, advance and retreat with our company,” said an employee named Xu Jin.
The tech ban caps months of US effort to isolate Huawei, whose equipment Washington fears could be used as a Trojan horse by Chinese intelligence services.
Still, last week Trump indicated he was willing to include a fix for Huawei in a trade deal that the two economic giants have struggled to seal and US officials issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban.
In Xinsheng, an employee with the handle Youxin lamented: “I want to advance and retreat alongside the company, but then my boss told me to pack up and go,” followed by two sad-face emoticons.