US-China trade deal hopes grow as oil prices decline

Workers extract oil from wells in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas. West Texas Intermediate crude dipped 25 cents per barrel on Tuesday, while Brent crude futures were down 51 cents to $61.72 per barrel. (Getty Images)
Updated 19 June 2019
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US-China trade deal hopes grow as oil prices decline

  • Data suggested a smaller-than-expected fall in American crude inventories
  • Preparations underway for Donald Trump to meet Xi Jinping next week at the G20 summit in Osaka

LONDON: Oil prices declined on Wednesday as data suggested a smaller-than-expected fall in American crude inventories, as hopes for a US-China trade deal continue to grow.
Brent crude futures were down 51 cents at $61.72 a barrel.
US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 25 cents to $53.65 a barrel. On Tuesday, it had recorded its biggest daily rise since early January.
After weeks of swelling, US crude stocks fell by 812,000 barrels last week to 482 million, the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday, a smaller fall than the 1.1-million-barrel drop analysts had expected.
Official estimates on US crude stockpiles from the US government’s Energy Information Administration are due during afternoon trading.
US President Donald Trump offered some support, saying preparations were underway for him to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next week at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, amid hopes a trade deal could be thrashed out between the two powers. Trump has repeatedly threatened China with tariffs since winning office in 2016.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi also offered a boost, saying on Tuesday that he would ease policy again if inflation failed to accelerate.
Tensions remain high in the Middle East after last week’s tanker attacks. Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the US have mounted, with Washington blaming Tehran, which has denied any role.
Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Iran having a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would approve the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies.
On Wednesday, oil markets shrugged off a rocket attack on a site in southern Iraq used by foreign oil companies.
“It is interesting to note that the crude oil futures market could not rally on hawks planting bombs in the Strait of Hormuz but could rally on doves planting quantitative easing,” Petromatrix’s Olivier Jakob said in a note.
“This is an oil market that doesn’t know how to react when an oil tanker blows up but knows how to react when the head of a central bank makes some noise.”
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have agreed to meet on July 1, followed by a meeting with non-OPEC allies on July 2, after weeks of wrangling over dates.
OPEC and its allies will discuss whether to extend a deal on cutting 1.2 million barrels per day of production that runs out this month.


Egyptian economy on right track after 5.6% growth in 2018-2019: prime minister

Updated 17 July 2019
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Egyptian economy on right track after 5.6% growth in 2018-2019: prime minister

  • Egypt is emerging from a three-year economic reform program tied to a $12 billion loan from the IMF
  • Egypt has been praised by international lenders for swift reforms implemented since 2016

CAIRO: Egypt’s economy grew 5.6 percent in the 2018/19 fiscal year and is “on the right track” as it completes IMF-backed reforms, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli said on Wednesday.
The budget deficit came in at 8.2 percent of GDP, he said, which was slightly below an official forecast of 8.4 percent.
Egypt is emerging from a three-year economic reform program tied to a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Madbouli said Egypt’s primary surplus stood at 2 percent for the fiscal year, which ended in June, and also pointed to a recent drop in inflation as positive signs. Economic growth was up from 5.3 percent in 2017/18 and in line with a government forecast.
“At the same time, it induces us to complete the implementation of reforms and the efforts exerted to achieve the targets for the new fiscal year,” Madbouli said in a statement said.
Egypt has been praised by international lenders for swift reforms implemented since 2016, though austerity measures and inflation have left many Egyptians struggling to get by.
The reforms included a sharp devaluation of the currency, the introduction of value-added tax and the elimination of subsidies on most fuel products.
Headline annual inflation dropped to 9.4 percent in June from 14.1 percent the previous month, though it is expected to rise over the rest of the summer as the impact of the latest round of fuel subsidy cuts kicks in.