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.


New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

Updated 42 min 36 sec ago
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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.