Oil prices fall as economic growth worries spread

Oil prices have been getting some support from supply cuts that started in late 2018 by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. (Reuters)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Oil prices fall as economic growth worries spread

  • China on Monday reported its lowest economic growth figure since 1990, with GDP rising by 6.6 percent in 2018
  • ‘The effects of OPEC-led cuts ... will undoubtedly place a price floor under crude oil’

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell on Tuesday as signs of a spreading global economic slowdown stoked concerns over future fuel demand.
International Brent crude oil futures were at $62.26 per barrel at 0410 GMT, down 48 cents, or 0.8 percent, from their previous close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.44 per barrel, down 0.7 percent, or 36 cents.
China on Monday reported its lowest economic growth figure since 1990, with GDP rising by 6.6 percent in 2018.
“Slowing manufacturing activity in China is likely weighing on demand,” said Singapore-based tanker brokerage Eastport on Tuesday, adding that industrial slowdowns tended to be leading indicators that only gradually fed into lower demand for shipped oil products.
In a sign of spreading economic weakness, South Korea’s export-oriented economy slowed to a six-year low growth rate of 2.7 percent in 2018, official data showed on Tuesday.
This followed the International Monetary Fund on Monday trimming its 2019 global growth forecasts to 3.5 percent, down from 3.7 percent in last October’s outlook.
“After two years of solid expansion, the world economy is growing more slowly than expected and risks are rising,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told reporters.
Despite the darkening outlook, oil prices have been getting some support from supply cuts that started in late 2018 by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
“The effects of OPEC-led cuts ... will undoubtedly place a price floor under crude oil,” said Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures on Tuesday.


Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

Updated 18 June 2019
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Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

  • The PM said cabinet ministers need to be united and responsible
  • Lebanon’s debt is almost 150% of its GDP

BEIRUT, June 18 : Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday called for parliament to quickly approve the country’s 2019 budget and urged his coalition government to avoid internal disputes.
The cabinet this month agreed a budget plan that shrinks the projected fiscal deficit by 4 percentage points from last year to 7.6% by cutting spending and raising taxes and other fees.
“What I want during the debate is for us to be responsible and united, and not contradictory,” Hariri said in a statement, addressing cabinet ministers as to their comportment during the parliament debate.
Parliament’s finance committee is debating the draft budget and has suggested amendments, local newspapers reported. It will then put the budget to the full assembly to ratify it.
Parliament is mostly composed of parties that are also present in the coalition government and which supported the budget there.
Since the budget was agreed there have been fierce arguments between parties in the coalition over several subjects, though these have not targeted the budget.
Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens, equivalent to about 150% of GDP, and the International Monetary Fund has urged it to cut spending.
“We have held 19 cabinet meetings to agree on this draft budget and these sessions were not for fun, but for deep, detailed debate over every clause and every idea,” Hariri said.
“For this reason, I consider it the responsibility of each of us in government to have ministerial solidarity...to defend in parliament the decision that we have taken together,” he added.
After the 2019 budget is agreed, the cabinet must quickly start working on the 2020 budget and on approving the first phase of a program of investments toward which foreign donors have offered $11 billion in project financing. (Reporting by Angus McDowall, editing by Ed Osmond)