Oil steady on lower Iran exports, rising US supply

A pump jack operates in the Permian Basin oil production area near Wink, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 29 August 2018

Oil steady on lower Iran exports, rising US supply

  • Iran’s crude oil and condensate exports in August are set to drop below 70 million barrels for the first time since April 2017
  • Bowing to pressure from Washington, many crude buyers have already reduced orders from Iran

LONDON: Oil prices steadied on Wednesday, supported by news of a fall in Iranian crude supplies as US sanctions deter buyers, but held back by evidence of a rise in US inventories.
Benchmark Brent crude oil was unchanged at $75.95 a barrel by 0905 GMT. US light crude was 5 cents higher at $68.58 a barrel.
Iran’s crude oil and condensate exports in August are set to drop below 70 million barrels for the first time since April 2017, well ahead of the Nov. 4 start date for a second round of US economic sanctions, preliminary trade flows data on Thomson Reuters Eikon show.
Bowing to pressure from Washington, many crude buyers have already reduced orders from Iran, OPEC’s third-biggest producer.
Although Tehran is offering steep discounts, Iran’s August crude oil and condensate loadings are estimated at 2.06 million bpd, versus a peak of 3.09 million bpd in April.
“US sanctions toward Iran are now increasingly kicking in which will help to dry up the physical crude oil market,” said SEB Markets commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.
US crude inventories rose by 38,000 barrels to 405.7 million barrels in the week to Aug. 24, the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday.
Official US fuel inventory and crude production data will be published later on Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Traders said reports of potential investment in Venezuela’s struggling oil production also affected markets. Venezuelan crude exports have halved since 2016 to below 1 million barrels per day (bpd).
To stem tumbling output, Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA said on Tuesday it had signed a $430 million investment agreement to increase production by 640,000 bpd at 14 oilfields, although some analysts doubted whether this investment would go through given the instability in the country.
Despite the risk of disruption, especially from OPEC-countries like Venezuela, Iran, Libya and Nigeria, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said global supply could climb toward the end of the year.
“Heading into 4Q18, we expect rising non-OPEC oil production as supply outages abate and greenfield projects ramp up,” the US bank said. “Non-OPEC supply outages are at a 15-month high of 730,000 bpd. However, nearly half of these volumes are in the process of being restored.”
Adding to that will be new production in Canada, Brazil and the United States, which the bank said “should provide a substantial boost to non-OPEC supplies” during the second half of the year “taming upside pressures on Brent crude oil prices.”


Economists fear a US recession in 2021

Updated 19 August 2019

Economists fear a US recession in 2021

  • Trump’s higher budget deficits ‘might dampen the economy’

WASHINGTON: A number of US business economists appear sufficiently concerned about the risks of some of President Donald Trump’s economic policies that they expect a recession in the US by the end of 2021.

Thirty-four percent of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, in a report being released Monday, said they believe a slowing economy will tip into recession in 2021. 

That’s up from 25 percent in a survey taken in February. Only 2 percent of those polled expect a recession to begin this year, while 38 percent predict that it will occur in 2020.

Trump, however, has dismissed concerns about a recession, offering an optimistic outlook for the economy after last week’s steep drop in the financial markets and saying on Sunday, “I don’t think we’re having a recession.” A strong economy is key to the Republican president’s 2020 reelection prospects.

The economists have previously expressed concern that Trump’s tariffs and higher budget deficits could eventually dampen the economy.

The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on goods from many key US trading partners, from China and Europe to Mexico and Canada. 

Officials maintain that the tariffs, which are taxes on imports, will help the administration gain more favorable terms of trade. But US trading partners have simply retaliated with tariffs of their own.

Trade between the US and China, the two biggest global economies, has plunged. Trump decided last Wednesday to postpone until Dec. 15 tariffs on about 60 percent of an additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, granting a reprieve from a planned move that would have extended duties to nearly everything the US buys from China.

The financial markets last week signaled the possibility of a US recession, adding to concerns over the ongoing trade tensions and word from Britain and Germany that their economies are shrinking.

The economists surveyed by the NABE were skeptical about prospects for success of the latest round of US-China trade negotiations. Only 5 percent predicted that a comprehensive trade deal would result, 64 percent suggested a superficial agreement was possible and nearly 25 percent expected nothing to be agreed upon by the two countries.

The 226 respondents, who work mainly for corporations and trade associations, were surveyed between July 14 and Aug. 1. That was before the White House announced 10 percent tariffs on the additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, the Chinese currency dipped below the seven-yuan-to-$1 level for the first time in 11 years and the Trump administration formally labeled China a currency manipulator.

As a whole, the business economists’ recent responses have represented a rebuke of the Trump administration’s overall approach to the economy.

Still, for now, most economic signs appear solid. Employers are adding jobs at a steady pace, the unemployment rate remains near a 50-year low and consumers are optimistic. US retail sales figures out last Thursday showed that they jumped in July by the most in four months.