Oil slips even as OPEC mulls cut

OPEC is pushing for the group and its partners to reduce output by 1 million to 1.4 million barrels per day to prevent a build-up of unused fuel. Above, an oil refinery in Aqaba, Jordan. (Shutterstock)
Updated 20 November 2018
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Oil slips even as OPEC mulls cut

  • US crude stockpiles have grown for eight straight weeks, and data last week showed inventories swelled by the most in more than a year
  • A trade dispute between the US and China is one reason investors are a lot warier about the outlook for oil demand growth next year

NEW YORK: Oil futures fell about 1 percent on Monday amid global oversupply worries, but losses were muted as investors eyed potential sanctions on Iran from the EU, a possible production cut from OPEC and slightly bullish storage drawdown in US crude stocks.
Brent crude was down 70 cents a barrel at $66.06 at 4:37 p.m. GMT, having recovered from a session low at $65.27. US crude futures traded 15 cents lower at $56.31 a barrel.
EU foreign ministers endorsed a French government decision to sanction Iranian nationals accused of a bomb plot in France, potentially allowing the measures to take effect across the bloc, three diplomats said.
Potential sanctions from the EU would come as the US has granted waivers to some of Iran’s oil customers, muting the policy’s expected impact on global supplies.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, is pushing for the group and its partners to reduce output by 1 million to 1.4 million barrels per day to prevent a build-up of unused fuel.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Russia, which is not an OPEC member, planned to sign a partnership agreement with the group, and that details would be discussed at OPEC’s Dec. 6 meeting in Vienna.
“For a cut to be successful in supporting the market, they’re going to have to present a front that is not fractured and the chance of that is looking less and less likely as Dec. 6 approaches,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.
While a large cut would be supportive of crude futures, clear signals from producers are needed to lift prices notably, Yawger said. “We lack any certainty other than that the market is oversupplied in the US and everybody else is trying to deal with it.”
US crude stockpiles have grown for eight straight weeks, and data last week showed inventories swelled by the most in more than a year, weighing on the market.
Traders said futures pared losses on bullish stockpile data Monday as they said that energy information provider Genscape reported that crude inventories fell in the week ended Friday.
Brent is almost 25 percent below early October’s 2018 peak of $86.74, as evidence of slowing demand has materialized and output from the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia hit historic highs.
“Oil prices rose (last week) on the hope that OPEC and partners will act to reverse bearish sentiment, but from a technical set-up, bear mode remains intact,” OANDA strategist Stephen Innes said.
A trade dispute between the US and China is one reason investors are a lot warier about the outlook for oil demand growth next year.
Fund managers cut their bullish exposure to crude futures and options to the lowest since around mid-2017 this month.
Weekly exchange data shows money managers hold a combined net long position equivalent to around 364 million barrels of US and Brent crude futures and options, down from over 800 million barrels two months ago.
“The main trend remains bearish as investors no longer believe in a risk of supply tightness for crude,” ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said.


Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

Updated 59 min 27 sec ago
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Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

  • The MF has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy
  • ‘If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained’

MANAMA: IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that major economic growth was possible in the Palestinian territories if all sides showed urgency, as she took part in a US-led conference boycotted by the Palestinian leadership.
The International Monetary Fund has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy, with tax revenue blocked in a dispute with Israel which has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade.
“If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained,” said Lagarde.
The IMF chief is attending a conference in Bahrain to discuss the economic aspects of a United States plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which has already been rejected by the Palestinians as it fails to address key political issues.
Lagarde said for the US plan to work “it will require all the goodwill in the world on the part of all parties — private sector, public sector, international organizations and the parties on the ground and their neighbors.”
Citing examples of post-conflict countries, Lagarde said that private investors needed progress in several sectors including strengthening the central bank, better managing public finance and mobilizing domestic revenue.
“If anti-corruption is really one of the imperatives of the authorities — as it was in Rwanda, for instance — then things can really take off,” she said.
The plan presented by White House adviser Jared Kushner calls for $50 billion of investment in the Palestinian territories and its neighbors within a decade.
The proposals for infrastructure, tourism, education and more aim to create one million Palestinian jobs.
Gross domestic product in the Gaza Strip declined by eight percent last year, while there was only minor growth in the West Bank.
Kushner, opening the conference on Tuesday, called the plan the “Opportunity of the Century” — and said the Palestinians needed to accept it before a deal can be reached on political solutions.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected the conference, saying that the US and Israel are trying to dangle money to impose their ideas on a political settlement.
Washington says it will unveil the political aspects of its peace deal at a later date, most likely after Israel’s September election.