Brent oil inches up on Iran tensions and OPEC, while US crude falls

A trade war between the United States and China has dampened prospects of global economic growth and oil demand. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 05 July 2019

Brent oil inches up on Iran tensions and OPEC, while US crude falls

  • Both benchmarks were set for their biggest weekly falls in five weeks
  • In the US, new orders for factory goods fell for a second straight month in May

LONDON: Brent oil ticked higher on Friday, supported by tensions over Iran and the decision by OPEC and its allies to extend a supply cut deal until next year, while US benchmark crude prices fell on weak economic indicators.
Brent was up 53 cents at $63.83 per barrel by 1330 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) slipped 18 cents to $57.16. The US market was closed on Thursday for a holiday.
Both benchmarks were set for their biggest weekly falls in five weeks.
A trade war between the United States and China has dampened prospects of global economic growth and oil demand, but talks between the two nations resume next week in a bid to resolve the deadlock.
“The truce between the United States and China is not translating into anything in the real economy in the short term,” Petromatrix oil analyst Olivier Jakob said.
“The negotiations still have to happen and until then we will be looking at very weak manufacturing PMIs,” he said referring to Purchasing Managers’ Indices which indicate companies’ optimism about their sector.
German industrial orders fell far more than expected in May, and the Economy Ministry said this sector of Europe’s largest economy was likely to remain weak in the coming months.
In the US, new orders for factory goods fell for a second straight month in May, government data showed, stoking the economic concerns.
The US Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday a weekly decline of 1.1 million barrels in crude stocks, smaller than the 5 million barrel draw reported by the American Petroleum Institute and less than analyst expectations.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers such as Russia, a grouping known as OPEC+, supported prices by extending their deal on supply cuts.
Tension in the Middle East also offered some support. Iran, already embroiled in a row with the United States, threatened on Friday to capture a British ship after British forces seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar over accusations the ship was violating EU sanctions on Syria.
“It is just another sign that the market sentiment is not strong enough to react to those headlines and events, which is quite unusual,” Jakob said.
A Reuters survey found OPEC oil output sank to a new five-year low in June, as a rise in Saudi supply did not offset losses in Iran and Venezuela due to US sanctions and other outages elsewhere in the group.
Oil production by Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, was 9.782 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, an OPEC source said, slightly up from 9.67 million bpd in May.


$8bn blow to Erdogan as investors flee Turkey

Updated 09 July 2020

$8bn blow to Erdogan as investors flee Turkey

  • Overseas holdings in Istanbul stock exchange are at lowest in 16 years

ANKARA: Foreign capital is flooding out of Turkey in a massive vote of no confidence in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic competence.
Overseas investors have withdrawn nearly $8 billion from Turkish stocks since January, according to Central Bank statistics, reducing foreign investment in the Istanbul stock exchange from $32.3 billion to $24.4 billion.
As recently as 2013, the figure was $82 billion, and foreign investors now own less than 50 percent of stocks for the first time in 16 years.
“Foreign investment has left Turkey for several reasons, both internal and external,” Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, told Arab News.
“Externally, investors fled riskier assets like emerging markets during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of those flows are returning, but investors are being much more discerning and Turkey does not seem so attractive.”
In terms of internal factors, Thin said that Turkish policymakers had made it hard for foreign investors to transact in Turkey. “This includes real money clients, not just speculative.
“By implementing ad hoc measures to try and limit speculative activity, Turkey has made it hard for real money as well. Besides these problems, Turkey’s fundamentals remain poor compared to much of the emerging markets.”
Erdogan allies claim international players are manipulating the Istanbul stock exchange through automated trading, and have demanded action to make it difficult for them to trade in Turkish assets.
Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, Barclays and Credit Suisse were banned this month from short-selling stocks for up to three months, and this year local lenders were briefly banned by the banking regulator from trading in Turkish lira with Citigroup, BNP Paribas and UBS
JPMorgan was investigated by Turkish authorities last year after the bank published a report that advised its clients to short sell the Turkish lira.
MSCI, the provider of research-based indexes and analytics, warned last month that it may relegate Turkey from emerging market status to frontier-market status because of bans on short selling and stock lending.
With the market becoming less transparent, overseas fund managers, especially with short-term portfolios, are unenthusiastic about the Turkish market and are becoming more concerned about any forthcoming introduction of other liquidity restrictions.
The exodus of foreign capital is likely to undermine Turkey’s drive for economic growth, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when employment and investment levels have gone down, with the Turkish lira facing serious volatility.