Russia and OPEC output in focus as oil extends losses

The OPEC and its allies including Russia will meet in June to decide whether to continue withholding supply. (AFP)
Updated 16 April 2019
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Russia and OPEC output in focus as oil extends losses

  • Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said over the weekend that Russia and OPEC may decide to boost production
  • OPEC and its allies will meet in June to decide whether to continue withholding supply

SYDNEY: Oil prices edged down on Tuesday after a Russian minister said the nation and OPEC may boost crude output to fight for market share, checking a recent sharp rally driven by tighter global production.
Brent crude oil futures were at $71.08 a barrel at 0111 GMT, down 10 cents, or 0.1 percent, from their last close. Brent ended down 0.5 percent on Monday.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.39 per barrel, down 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, from their previous settlement. WTI fell 0.8 percent on Monday.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said over the weekend that Russia and OPEC may decide to boost production to fight for market share with the United States, but this would push oil as low as $40 per barrel.
“There is a growing concern that Russia will not agree on extending production cuts and we could see them officially abandon it in the coming months,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst, OANDA.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia, known as OPEC+, will meet in June to decide whether to continue withholding supply. That comes after they previously agreed to crimp output by 1.2 million barrels per day from Jan. 1 for six months.
Losses were checked by tighter supplies from Iran and Venezuela amid signs the United States will further toughen sanctions on those two OPEC producers, and on the threat that renewed fighting could wipe out crude production in Libya.


Saudi Arabia real estate reform ‘on the right track,’ housing minister tells conference

Updated 45 min 35 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia real estate reform ‘on the right track,’ housing minister tells conference

  • Financial Sector Conference is designed to showcase Saudi Arabia’s finance industry to a world audience
  • The most eye-catching was a plan by the Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s real estate finance sector — crucial to the ambition of a home-owning economy under the Vision 2030 strategy — is maturing rapidly, a high-profile event in Riyadh heard on Wednesday.
“We’re on the right track,” housing minister Majid Al-Hogail told attendees on the first day of the Financial Sector Conference, designed to showcase Saudi Arabia’s finance industry to a world audience.
His comments came as financial institutions in the Kingdom announced a raft of measures to encourage more home ownership.
The most eye-catching was a plan by the Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC) — owned by the Public Investment Fund — to issue up to SR3.75 billion ($1 billion) worth of sukuk, or Islamic bonds, this year to finance home ownership plans.
Fabrice Susini, chief executive of the company, said SRC had spent SR1.2 billion buying mortgages from local mortgage finance companies and adding liquidity to these firms. SRC is often compared to US home finance group Fannie Mae.
Reform of the financial infrastructure of the property market is regarded as crucial to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plans, to ensure an ownership rate of 70 percent in the privately owned housing market by 2030.
In a panel entitled “Mortgages: Bolstering Industry Appetite,” Al-Hogail spoke of the unique position Saudi Arabia has in the housing market, highlighting the relevance of a database established by the Ministry of Housing to give a better and deeper understanding of the market. The diverse nature of the market presents its own challenges, he said.
“Every city has its own different set of challenges and we can’t generalize. With the establishment of the database, it provides the ministry with a better future outlook through more detailed information, obtained through various means — whether it were through the Electric Company, through the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, or through the General Authority for Statistics and their surveys.”
“Over 16 government agencies support the housing sector to achieve Saudi Vision objectives, to increase property ownership among Saudis to 70 percent by 2030,” he said.
An official report for the first quarter of 2019 revealed that the finance market reached SR5.6 billion last March. Some 12,800 citizens received loans, and 85 percent were subsidised.
Saudi Arabia last year announced plans to boost the size of the mortgage market to SR502 billion by 2020 as part of a comprehensive plan to provide housing finance to its citizens, facilitating a balanced and sustainable housing environment through the establishment and development programs.
In other deals, Bidaya Home Finance announced three initiatives to enhance the Saudi market. Its first initiative involved the sale of Bidaya’s mortgage portfolio to SRC, valued at SR500 million over a period of six months. SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year, Fabrice Susini told Reuters in an interview. “Our strategy is clearly to tap the market twice this year,” he said.
“We are really looking at probably issuing something between SR2 to 4 billion that we may be issuing in two tranches.”
He said SRC was looking at sukuk in the 10- to 15-year range, to help minimize refinancing risks. “Generally speaking we are trying to issue as long as possible,” Susini said. He added that the company was assessing whether it could also issue bonds in currencies other than the Saudi riyal.
In March, SRC completed a SR750 million sukuk issue with multiple tenors, under a program that allows it to issue up to SR11 billion of local currency denominated Islamic bonds.