Oil drops on demand concerns as US shale set for new record

Saudi Arabia is cutting crude exports to drain global oil inventories as surging US shale output and a weakening Chinese yuan cast a shadow over global crude prices. (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 August 2019

Oil drops on demand concerns as US shale set for new record

  • Saudi Arabia to keep crude exports below 7 million bpd in August and September to balance market

LONDON: Oil prices dropped on Tuesday after see-sawing throughout the session as lingering concerns over global demand and rising US output offset expectations for major producers to further curtail supply. Brent crude futures were down 45 cents, or 0.7 percent, from the previous settlement at $58.12 a barrel in London afternoon trade. The international benchmark
has lost more than 20 percent since hitting its 2019 high in April. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $54.34 per barrel, down 59 cents, or about 1 percent.
A deepening trade war between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies and energy consumers, has weighed heavily on oil prices in recent months.
China’s central bank lowered its official yuan midpoint for the ninth straight day to a fresh 11-year low on Tuesday. A weaker yuan raises the cost of dollar-denominated oil imports into China, the world’s biggest crude oil importer.
Booming US shale oil output also continues to chip away at efforts to limit the global supply overhang, weighing on prices.
US oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise by 85,000 barrels per day (bpd) in September to a record 8.77 million bpd, the Energy Information Administration forecast in a report.

HIGHLIGHTS

• US-China trade wars weigh on demand.

• US shale set to rise to new high in September.

• Weaker yuan raises cost of oil imports to China.

The startup of a major pipeline between the Permian shale basin and the Gulf Coast means that more crude can be exported, adding to global supplies.
“The big test now is whether the shale producers can keep growing production at these lower price levels,” said Callum Macpherson, head of commodities at Investec.
“This could be the start of a readjustment process from the artificially high prices OPEC is implicitly trying to maintain down to something more in line with the marginal shale production costs,” Macpherson said.
Saudi Arabia said last week it planned to keep its crude exports below 7 million bpd in August and September to help drain global oil inventories.
OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, have agreed to cut 1.2 million bpd of production since Jan. 1.


Automakers expect Trump will delay decision on imposing EU, Japan tariffs

Updated 51 min 26 sec ago

Automakers expect Trump will delay decision on imposing EU, Japan tariffs

  • Foreign companies are eager to highlight US investments to try to dissuade US president

Major automakers think US President Donald Trump will again this week push back a self-imposed deadline on whether to put up to 25 percent tariffs on national security grounds on imported cars and parts from the EU and Japan amid an ongoing trade war with China, five auto officials told Reuters.

The anticipated delay — expected to be announced later this week — comes as foreign automakers are eager to highlight US investments to try to dissuade Trump from using tariffs that they argue could cost US jobs.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said earlier this month tariffs may not be necessary. EU officials expect Trump to announce a six-month delay when he faces a self-imposed deadline this week. Trump in May delayed a decision on tariffs by up to 180 days as he ordered US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to pursue negotiations.

Lighthizer’s office recently asked many foreign automakers to provide a tally of investments they have made in the US, several auto industry officials told Reuters.

The White House and Lighthizer’s office declined to comment.

FASTFACTS

• US is considering 25 percent tariffs on national security grounds on imported cars and parts from the EU and Japan.

• President Donald Trump in May delayed a decision on tariffs by up to 180 days as he ordered US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to pursue negotiations.

On Wednesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican ally of Trump’s, plans to attend a groundbreaking at Volkswagen AG’s Chattanooga assembly plant where they will mark the beginning of an $800 million expansion to build electric vehicles and add 1,000 jobs. The high-profile event will also include remarks from Germany’s ambassador to the US.

VW announced the plan to begin producing EVs by 2022 in Tennessee in January.

Daimler AG said in late 2017 it planned to invest $1 billion to expand its manufacturing footprint around Tuscaloosa, Alabama, creating more than 600 jobs. Tariffs on Japan seem even less likely than the EU, experts say.

Japanese automakers and suppliers have announced billions of dollars in investments, most notably a $1.6 billion joint venture plant in Alabama by Toyota Motor Corp and Mazda Motor Corp.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a limited trade deal in September cutting tariffs on US farm goods, Japanese machine tools and other products.

Although the agreement does not cover trade in autos, Abe said in September he had received reassurance from Trump that the US would not impose auto tariffs on national security grounds. Lighthizer said the two countries would tackle cars in negotiations expected to start next April.

Stefan Mair, member of the executive board of the BDI German industry association, said a deal to permanently remove the threat of tariffs was needed. “The investments that are not being made are costing us the growth of tomorrow, even in sectors that are seemingly not affected,” he said.

Germany’s merchandise trade surplus with the US — $69 billion in 2018 — remains a sore point with the Trump administration as does Japan’s $67.6 billion
US trade surplus last year — with two-thirds of that in the auto sector.