Oil mixed as OPEC cuts, US sanctions prop up prices while trade war weighs

US sanctions on petroleum exports from Iran have tightened markets. Above, an Iranian oil facility at Khark island on the Arabian Gulf. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2019

Oil mixed as OPEC cuts, US sanctions prop up prices while trade war weighs

  • OPEC and some allies including Russia are due to meet on June 25 and 26 to discuss output policy
  • US sanctions on petroleum exports from Iran and Venezuela have tightened markets

SINGAPORE: Oil prices were mixed on Tuesday as supply cuts, led by producer club OPEC, and US sanctions on fuel exports from Iran and Venezuela supported crude, while concerns about an economic slowdown weighed on the market.
Front-month Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $69.99 at 0637 GMT, down 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, from the last session’s close, when they rose 2.1 percent.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $59.03 per barrel, up 40 cents, or 0.7 percent, from their last close on Friday. WTI did not trade on Monday due to a US public holiday.
Prices have been supported by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since the start of the year, and by political tensions in the Middle East.
OPEC and some allies including Russia are due to meet on June 25 and 26 to discuss output policy.
Beyond the output cuts, US bank, Citi said, “Geopolitical turmoil across the Middle East ... are likely to encourage financial investors to realign with their bullish physical counterparties.”
In physical oil markets, Middle East crude premiums hit their highest levels in years earlier this month amid falling supply.
Beyond the OPEC cuts, US sanctions on petroleum exports from Iran and Venezuela have tightened markets.
“Iran exports remain under pressure as US sanctions bite. This comes as OPEC appears to be heading toward extending the current production cut agreement,” Citi added.
Trump last year withdrew the United States from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, and Washington is ratcheting up sanctions seeking to end Tehran’s international sales of crude oil and strangle its economy.
Washington has also imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil exports, in a bid to topple the government under President Nicolas Maduro there.
Despite this, markets remain cautious amid an economic slowdown as a result of the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, which is also expected to dent fuel consumption.
“We really need to see some strong demand figures, which so far this year has not happened, before we can really start listening to the bulls,” said Matt Stanley, a broker at Starfuels in Dubai.


Getting more women into leadership positions top priority: CEO

This June 23, 2018 photo, shows a general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
Updated 18 January 2020

Getting more women into leadership positions top priority: CEO

  • Saudi Arabia is focusing on the Business 20 (B20), making this one of the key engagement groups. Women in Business will be Saudi Arabia’s signature topic

RIYADH: The boss of one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest banks says that getting more women into leadership positions is a top priority.
Samba CEO Rania Nashar chairs the action council for Women in Business created by the Business Twenty (B20), which is the official G20 dialogue with the business community. It represents the global business community across all G20 member states and all economic sectors.
She said the council was set up to boost women’s particpation not only in business but also in global leadership positions.
During the launch of the B20 in Saudi Arabia this week, Nashar highlighted the under-representation of women in the economy.
“There is a gap of 27 percent between male and female workers; 75 percent of males are part of the labor force while only 48 percent of females are working,” she said.
She said it was important not to just talk about women as workers but as business owners.

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Saudi Arabia will host the 15th G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22, 2020.

“That’s why entrepreneurship is very fundamental to our task force,” she said.  “The majority of the finance development programs have incentives for giving loans to females; however, despite the fact that many large borrowers are females, the amount of loans granted to them is far below what is granted to males,” she added.
Nashar said that two-thirds of female business founders feel that they were not taken seriously by investors when they pitch for investments. They also feel that they are treated differently from their male counterparts.
Saudi Arabia will host the 15th G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22, 2020. The Kingdom is focusing on the Business 20 (B20), making this one of the key engagement groups. Women in Business will be Saudi Arabia’s signature topic.