WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Oil price trends suggest OPEC+ output cuts having desired effect

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Updated 12 July 2020

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Oil price trends suggest OPEC+ output cuts having desired effect

  • Brent crude oil nudged higher to end the week at $43.24 per barrel

Brent crude oil nudged higher to end the week at $43.24 per barrel as WTI also gained to $40.55. 

Oil prices have been moving in an extremely narrow band over the last two months of just $3-$4 and this week that band was squeezed further from dollars to cents.

Accordingly, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) raised its price outlook for Brent crude to $41 per barrel for the second half of 2020, which is $4 per barrel higher than last month.

More importantly, the latest oil price trends confirm that historical output cuts made by OPEC+ are working to re-balance the market in the wake of the largest oil demand shock in history.

OPEC slashed its crude output in June to a three-decade low when it produced 22.31 million bpd, the organization’s lowest collective output since September 1990. 

These cuts appear to have achieved high compliance rates and have been largely responsible for keeping the market intact. 

But while consumers have benefited from market stability recently, the same cannot be said for speculators who love volatility.

Instead the hedge fund heads have been turned by airlines, cruise companies, banks and other sectors hard hit by the pandemic.

This won’t support upward movement in oil prices as sentiment remains bearish.

In the physical market, sour crude grades with high sulfur content are trading at prices getting closer to sweet barrels with low sulfur content. Crude grades with high sulfur content are showing signs of under-supply, with record premiums to Brent.

Coronavirus disease cases continue to rise in the US, a major threat to oil markets. 

Brent’s premium against Dubai has narrowed sharply this year and even flipped to a discount against Arabian Gulf crude grades for the first time in March.

At the same time, US shale prices linked to WTI remains relatively expensive.


Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

Updated 14 August 2020

Apple, Google drop Fortnite from app stores over payments

  • Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store
  • Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games

NEW YORK: Apple and Google dropped the popular game Fortnite from their app stores after the game’s developer introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses their platforms.
Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games, which has long been a sore spot with developers.
Fortnite is free, but users can pay for in game accoutrements like weapons and skins. Its developer, Epic Games, said in a blog post Thursday that it was introducing Epic Direct payments, a direct payment plan for Apple’s iOS and Google Play. Epic said the system is the same payment system it already uses to process payments on PC and Mac computers and Android phones.
Apple and Google said the service violates their guidelines.
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services,” Apple said in statement.
Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store. Android users can download the app from other app stores, although that’s generally not an option for iPhone users.
Epic Games did not immediately return a request for comment. Epic’s Fortnite Twitter account said the company would debut a new short film called “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” a seeming parody of Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer. It has also filed a complaint against Apple in the US District Court in Northern California for dropping Fortnite.