Oil prices ease on potential supply hikes by Russia

Supply outages in Libya pushed oil prices higher late last week, although prices still ended down for a second straight week. Above, the El Sharara oilfield in Libya in 2014. (Reuters)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Oil prices ease on potential supply hikes by Russia

SEOUL: Oil prices fell on Monday as concerns about supply disruptions eased and Libyan ports resumed export activities, while traders eyed potential supply increases by Russia and other oil producers.
Brent crude futures were down 48 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $74.85 a barrel at 0302 GMT.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 39 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $70.62 a barrel.
Supply outages in Libya and strike action in Norway and Iraq pushed oil prices higher late last week, although prices still ended down for a second straight week.
“Crude oil prices fell as fears of supply disruptions eased. News that Libya’s state oil producer had restarted output from a major oil field ignited the selloff earlier in the week,” ANZ Bank said in a note.
The market focus shifted toward possible supply increases, even as a Norwegian union for workers on offshore oil and gas drilling rigs stepped up a six-day strike.
“There are mixed supply signals and I think the (Brent) price is likely to be in the low-to-mid $70s range,” said Kim Kwang-rae, commodity analyst at Samsung Futures in Seoul.
“A summit between US President Trump and Russian President Putin is also being watched in case they say something about oil,” Kim said.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to hold their first stand-alone meeting in Helsinki on Monday. Trump has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with higher oil prices, asking OPEC to lower prices.
Russia and other major oil producers may increase output further should supply shortages hit the global oil market, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday.
Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA, said US-China trade tensions “should subside this week and could be a possible plus for oil prices,” but a possible sale of US oil reserves would hurt prices.
“With the Trump administration actively considering tapping into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it could weigh negatively,” Innes said.
The United States holds a reserve of about 660 million barrels, and the Trump administration was considering drawing on the country’s oil reserve, which would increase supply, according to a Bloomberg report.
Meanwhile, the number of rigs drilling in the United States was unchanged at 863 in the week to July 13 as the rate of the growth slowed amid a fall in crude prices.


Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

Updated 20 September 2019

Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

  • Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows

SINGAPORE: Sales of Singapore apartments worth at least S$10 million ($7.3 million) have hit an 11-year high, fueled by increased demand from Chinese millionaires seeking safe-haven assets, say property consultants OrangeTee & Tie.

Investors have long viewed Singapore as an island of stability that attracts the super-rich from its less developed Southeast Asian neighbors, as well as multimillionaires from mainland China.

In the first eight months of 2019, 68 condominium units in the wealthy Asian city-state were sold for S$10 million and more, the highest tally since the corresponding period of 2008.

Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows.

Some buyers may have sought an alternative to rival financial hub Hong Kong, hit by protests, while others may have shifted funds from China after its yuan currency was devalued in a trade war with the US, an OrangeTee expert said.

“This may explain why we have observed more foreign buyers, especially mainland Chinese, coming into Singapore lately,” said Christine Sun, its head of research and consultancy.

Mainland Chinese are the biggest group of foreign buyers of Singapore luxury homes.

In Singapore’s prime districts, Chinese citizens bought 76 apartments worth more than S$5 million from January to August, versus 75 purchases by Singaporeans, data until Sept. 19 show.

Expensive apartments in premium neighborhoods are mainly bought by foreigners, because at such high prices Singaporeans have the option to buy landed property, such as bungalows and mansions.

Singapore does not allow foreigners to buy landed homes, except for those on the resort island of Sentosa.

“We do see that even though the stamp duties have increased .... we are still seeing people putting big money on these apartments, predominantly it is more for stability than anything else,” said Boon Hoe Leong, chief operating officer of high-end realtor List Sotheby’s International Realty.

He was referring to measures Singapore adopted last year to cool its real estate market, such as hiking additional stamp duties for foreign buyers to 20 percent from 15 percent.

“They are parking their money here — they know that the Sing dollar won’t depreciate overnight,” he added.