Oil prices surge on OPEC deal to cut output by 1.2m barrels

The price of Brent oil rocketed Friday on reports that OPEC and non-OPEC crude producers had agreed to slash output. (Reuters)
Updated 08 December 2018

Oil prices surge on OPEC deal to cut output by 1.2m barrels

  • Oil prices have plunged 30 percent since October as supply has surged and global demand growth has weakened
  • OPEC is seeking support from non-OPEC Russia for supply cuts

NEW YORK: Oil prices jumped more than 4 percent on Friday as Saudi Arabia and other producers in OPEC, as well as allies like Russia agreed to reduce output to drain global fuel inventories and support the market.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its Russia-led allies, referred to as “OPEC+,” agreed to slash production by a combined 1.2 million barrels per day from 2019, larger than the minimum 1 million bpd that the market had expected, despite pressure from US President Donald Trump to reduce the price of crude.
The producer club will curb output by 800,000 bpd from January while non-OPEC allies contribute an additional 400,000 bpd of cuts, Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said after OPEC concluded two days of talks in Vienna.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak confirmed the combined output cuts of 1.2 million bpd, saying that the market will be oversupplied through the first half of the year.
Brent crude rose $2.94 to $63.00 a barrel by 11:20 a.m. EDT. In early trade, the global benchmark fell below $60 when it looked as if oil exporters might leave production targets unchanged. The benchmark rallied to a session high of $63.73 on news of the agreement.
US crude rose $2.20 to $53.69 a barrel, after earlier reaching a session high of $54.22.
US crude was on track to end the week up 5.2 percent and Brent was 6.9 percent higher on the week so far.
A 1.2 million-bpd cut, if implemented fully, “should be enough to largely attenuate, but not eliminate, expected implied global inventory builds in the first half of next year,” Harry Tchilinguirian, global oil strategist at BNP Paribas in London, told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.
Oil prices have plunged 30 percent since October as supply has surged and global demand growth has weakened.
Prices fell almost 3 percent on Thursday after OPEC ended a meeting in Vienna with only a tentative deal to tackle weak prices. Talks with other producers were held on Friday.
But Iran gave OPEC the green light on Friday to reduce oil output after finding a compromise with rival Saudi Arabia over a possible exemption from the cuts, an OPEC source said.
Oil output from the world’s biggest producers — OPEC, Russia and the US — has increased by 3.3 million bpd since the end of 2017 to 56.38 million bpd, meeting almost 60 percent of global consumption. 
The surge is mainly due to soaring US oil production, which has jumped by 2.5 million bpd since early 2016 to a record 11.7 million bpd, making the US the world’s biggest producer.
The US rig count, an indicator of future output, has risen for five straight months, The latest weekly data is due at 1 p.m. EST.
Given supply that is coming to be online, some analysts and market participants say the cut may not be enough to end oil’s rout.
“Relative to how big this looming supply tsunami, it is not nearly enough to prevent big inventory builds next year,” said Robert McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group in Washington. “President Trump and President Putin prevented OPEC+ from cutting by more, which was certainly needed to put a sturdy floor under prices. They are putting a fuzzy floor under prices.”
Trump has asked OPEC to keep prices low. Russia had initially balked at cutting production alongside OPEC.


Japan’s households tighten purse strings as sales tax and typhoon hit

Updated 06 December 2019

Japan’s households tighten purse strings as sales tax and typhoon hit

  • Falls in factory output, jobs and retail add to fears of worsening slowdown after Tokyo unveils $122bn stimulus package

TOKYO: Japanese households cut their spending for the first time in almost a year in October as a sales tax hike prompted consumers to rein in expenses and natural disasters disrupted business.

Household spending dropped 5.1 percent in October from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday.

It is the first fall in household spending in 11 months and the biggest fall since March 2016 when spending fell by 5.3 percent. It was also weaker than the median forecast for a 3 percent decline.

That marked a sharp reversal from the 9.5 percent jump in September, the fastest growth on record as consumers rushed to buy goods before the Oct. 1 sales tax hike from 8 percent to 10 percent.

“Not only is the sales tax hike hurting consumer spending but impacts from the typhoon also accelerated the decline in the spending,” said Taro Saito, executive research fellow at NLI Research Institute.

“We expect the economy overall and consumer spending will contract in the current quarter and then moderately pick up January-March, but such recovery won't be strong enough.”

Household spending fell by 4.6 percent in April 2014 when Japan last raised the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent. It took more than a year for the sector to return to growth.

Compared with the previous month, household spending fell 11.5 percent in October, the fastest drop since April 2014, a faster decline than the median 9.8 percent forecast.

Analysts said a powerful typhoon in October, which lashed swathes of Japan with heavy rain, also played a factor in the downbeat data. Some shops and restaurants closed during the storm and consumers stayed home.

Separate data also showed the weak state of the economy.

The index of coincident economic indicators, which consists of a range of data including factory output, employment and retail sales data, fell a preliminary 5.6 points to 94.8 in October from the previous month, the lowest reading since February 2013, the Cabinet Office said on Friday.

It was also the fastest pace of decline since March 2011, according to the data.

Real wages adjusted for inflation, meanwhile, edged up for a second straight month in October, but the higher levy and weak global economy raise worries about the prospect for consumer spending and the overall economy.

While the government has sought to offset the hit to consumers through vouchers and tax breaks, there are fears the higher tax could hurt an economy already feeling the pinch from global pressures.

Japan unveiled a $122 billion fiscal package on Thursday to support stalling growth and as policymakers look to sustain activity beyond the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A recent spate of weak data, such as exports and factory output, have raised worries about the risk of a sharper-than-expected slowdown. The economy grew by an annualized 0.2 percent in the third quarter, the weakest pace in a year.

Analysts expect the economy to shrink in the current quarter due to the sales tax hike.