Oil firms as China’s slowdown not as steep as some expected

Researchers at Bernstein Energy said the supply cuts led by OPEC ‘will move the market back into supply deficit’ for most of 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Oil firms as China’s slowdown not as steep as some expected

  • In an expected cooling, China’s economy grew by 6.6 percent in 2018, its slowest expansion in 28 years
  • ‘Brent can remain above $60 per barrel on OPEC+ compliance, expiry of Iran waivers and slower US output growth’

SINGAPORE: Oil prices firmed on Monday after data showed China’s economic slowdown was not as big as some analysts had expected, with supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also offering support.
International Brent crude oil futures were at $62.83 per barrel at 0259, up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.92 a barrel, up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent.
Both oil price benchmarks had dipped into the red earlier in the session on fears that China’s 2018 economic growth figures would be weaker.
In an expected cooling, China’s economy grew by 6.6 percent in 2018, its slowest expansion in 28 years and down from a revised 6.8 percent in 2017, official data showed on Monday. China’s September-December 2018 growth was at 6.4 percent, down from 6.5 percent in the previous quarter.
Although the slowdown was in line with expectations and not as sharp as some analysts had expected, the cooling of the world’s number two economy casts a shadow over global growth.
“The global outlook remains murky, despite emerging positives from a dovish Fed (now boosting US mortgage applications), faster China easing (China credit growth stabilizing) and a more durable US-China truce,” US bank JP Morgan said in a note.
Despite this, analysts said supply cuts led by OPEC would likely support crude oil prices.
“Brent can remain above $60 per barrel on OPEC+ compliance, expiry of Iran waivers and slower US output growth,” JP Morgan said.
It recommended investors should “stay long” crude oil.
Researchers at Bernstein Energy said the supply cuts led by OPEC “will move the market back into supply deficit” for most of 2019 and that “this should allow oil prices to rise to $70 per barrel before year-end from current levels of $60 per barrel.”
In the US, energy firms cut 21 oil rigs in the week to Jan. 18, taking the total count down to 852, the lowest since May 2018, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in a weekly report on Friday.
It was biggest decline since February 2016, as drillers reacted to the 40 percent plunge in US crude prices late last year.
However, US crude oil production still rose by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018, to a record 11.9 million bpd.
With the rig count stalling, last year’s growth rate is unlikely to be repeated in 2019, although most analysts expect annual production to average well over 12 million bpd, making the US the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.


New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

Updated 18 February 2019
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New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

  • Huawei faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government
  • Several Western countries had restricted Huawei’s access to their markets

WELLINGTON: New Zealand will independently assess the risk of using China’s Huawei Technologies in 5G networks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday after a report suggested that British precautions could be used by other nations.
Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government and US-led allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.
No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have led several Western countries to restrict Huawei’s access to their markets.
The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the British government had decided it can mitigate the risks arising from the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks. It said Britain’s conclusion would “carry great weight” with European leaders and other nations could use similar precautions.
New Zealand’s intelligence agency in November rejected an initial request from telecommunications services provider Spark to use 5G equipment provided by Huawei.
At the time, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) gave Spark options to mitigate national security concerns over the use of Huawei equipment, Ardern said on Monday.
“The ball is now in their court,” she told a weekly news conference.
Ardern said New Zealand, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network that includes the United Kingdom and the United States, would conduct its own assessment.
“I would expect the GCSB to apply with our legislation and our own security assessments. It is fair to say Five Eyes, of course, share information but we make our own independent decisions,” she said.
Huawei New Zealand did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spark said it was in discussions with GCSB officials.
“We are working through what possible mitigations we might be able to provide to address the concerns raised by the GCSB and have not yet made any decision on whether or when we should submit a revised proposal to GCSB,” Spark spokesman Andrew Pirie said in an emailed statement.
The Huawei decision, along with the government’s tougher stance on China’s growing influence in the Pacific, has some politicians and foreign policy analysts worried about potential strained ties with a key trading partner.
Ardern’s planned first visit to Beijing has faced scheduling issues, and China last week postponed a major tourism campaign in New Zealand days before its launch.
Ardern said her government’s relationship with China was strong despite some complex issues.
“Visits are not a measure of the health of a relationship they are only one small part of it,” she said, adding that trade and tourism ties remained strong.