Oil rises more than 1% as US recession fears recede

US retail sales rose 0.7 percent in July as consumers bought a range of goods even as they cut back on motor vehicle purchases. (Reuters)
Updated 16 August 2019

Oil rises more than 1% as US recession fears recede

  • US retail sales rose 0.7 percent in July as consumers bought a range of goods even as they cut back on motor vehicle purchases
  • The price of Brent is still up nearly 10 percent this year

TOKYO: Crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Friday following two days of declines, buoyed after data showing an increase in retail sales in the United States helped dampen concerns about a recession in the world’s biggest economy.
Brent crude was up 68 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $58.91 a barrel at 0650 GMT, after falling 2.1 percent on Thursday and 3 percent the previous day.
US crude was up 63 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $55.10 a barrel, having dropped 1.4 percent the previous session and 3.3 percent on Wednesday.
US retail sales rose 0.7 percent in July as consumers bought a range of goods even as they cut back on motor vehicle purchases, according to data that came a day after a key part of the US Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time since June 2007, prompting a sell-off in stocks and crude oil.
An inverted Treasury yield curve is historically a reliable predictor of looming recessions.
“The rebound has a corrective look about it on thin volumes, rather than a beachhead for an impending rebound,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA. “Overall, US data continues to be a bright spot in a dark economic universe.”
Gains are likely to be capped after a week of data releases including a surprise drop in industrial output growth in China to a more than 17-year low, along with a fall in exports that sent Germany’s economy into reverse in the second quarter.
“The broader story around global economic growth has been a weak one, or a weakening one and expectations (are for) further weakening,” Phin Ziebell, senior economist at National Australia Bank, said by phone.
The price of Brent is still up nearly 10 percent this year thanks to supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies such as Russia, a group known as OPEC+. In July, OPEC+ agreed to extend oil output cuts until March 2020 to prop up prices.
“At what point will further output cuts be needed at the back end of this year from OPEC and Russia to keep things going the way they are?” Zeibell said, pointing to the broader economic outlook.
A Saudi official on Aug. 8 indicated more steps may be coming, saying: “Saudi Arabia is committed to do whatever it takes to keep the market balanced next year.”
But the efforts of OPEC+ have been outweighed by worries about the global economy amid the US-China trade dispute and uncertainty over Brexit, as well as rising US stockpiles of crude and higher output of US shale oil.


Gulf Marine CEO quits after review sparks profit warning

Updated 22 August 2019

Gulf Marine CEO quits after review sparks profit warning

  • Tensions in the Arabian Gulf, a worrisome global growth outlook and uncertainty over oil prices have recently dampened investor confidence

DUBAI: Gulf Marine Services said on Wednesday Chief Executive Officer Duncan Anderson has resigned as the oilfield industry contractor warned a reassessment of its ships and contracts showed profit would fall this year, kicking its shares 12 percent down.

The Abu Dhabi-based offshore services specialist said a review by new finance chief Stephen Kersley of its large E-class vessels operating in Northwest Europe and the Middle East pointed to 2019 core earnings of between $45 million and $48 million, below $58 million that it reported last year.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Anderson, who has served as CEO for 12 years, was asked to step down. Anderson could not be reached for comment.

The company, which in the past predominantly operated in the UAE, expanded operations and deployed large vessels in the North Sea and Saudi Arabia nine years ago and listed its shares in London in 2014.

Tensions in the Arabian Gulf, a worrisome global growth outlook and uncertainty over oil prices have recently dampened investor confidence.

The North Sea has seen a revival in production in recent years due to new fields coming on line and improved performance by operators following the 2014 oil price collapse.

Still, the basin’s production is expected to decline over the next decade, according to Britain’s Oil and Gas Authority.

“(The CFO’s) review has coincided with a pause in renewables-related self-propelled self-elevating support vessels activity in the North Sea, which will impact several of the higher day-rate E-Class vessels,” Investec wrote in a note.

Gulf Marine appointed industry veteran Kersley as chief financial officer in late May as it sought to halt a slide which has seen the company’s shares fall nearly 80 percent last year and another 23 percent so far this year.

The company said market conditions remained challenging and that it was still in talks with its financial advisors regarding a new capital structure.

“Management, the new board and the group’s advisors, have been in negotiation with the group’s banks on resetting its capital structure and progress has been made,” it said in a statement.

Last year, Gulf Marine said contracts were delayed into 2019 as the company was seen to be in breach of certain banking covenants at the end of 2018.

The company said it was still in talks with its banks and individual lenders with hopes of getting a waiver or an agreement to amend the concerned covenants.