Crude oil prices take a breather after hitting 2016 highs
Published 2016-04-28 08:10:40| Amwal Al Ghad English
Crude futures pulled back from 2016 highs on Thursday as traders locked in profits after April's sharp rally, but analysts said falling U.S. production, strong investor appetite and a weakening dollar could push prices higher soon. International Brent crude futures were trading at $46.91 per barrel at 0638 GMT, down 27 cents from their last settlement. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were down 20 cents at $45.13 a barrel. The dips came after both benchmarks rose on Wednesday to their highest levels for 2016 in what has been one of the steepest price increases in recent years. Both Brent and WTI have rallied more than 70 percent since their respective 2016 lows in January and February. Record crude storage figures may have spurred some investors to take profits on Thursday by closing long positions, traders said, and government data on Wednesday showed that U.S. crude stocks climbed 2 million barrels last week to an all-time peak of 540.6 million barrels. Despite the price falls, analysts said that sentiment had clearly turned bullish, and that further price rises were likely. "We ... appear to be at the beginning of a bull market," U.S. investment bank Jefferies said on Thursday. Analysts said falling output in the United States, where Energy Aspects said there were now even "murmurings of volumes falling short" of demand, and a weak dollar were supporting prices and attracting investors. "The recent trend of rising crude oil prices received another boost after U.S. output was shown to have fallen again last week," ANZ bank said, following a release by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing that crude oil production fell to 8.94 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, down almost half a million bpd from this time last year. While Jefferies said it expected the market to remain oversupplied in the near term, it said that crude inventories should begin to fall by the third quarter, "setting the stage for a fundamental recovery". Analysts said that further bullish momentum could emerge due to ongoing weakness in the dollar, which is down almost 6 percent this year against a basket of other leading currencies, as a weaker greenback makes dollar-traded crude cheaper to buy for countries using other currencies at home. The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it would leave U.S. interest rates unchanged, while the bank of Japan said Thursday it would hold back from expanding stimulus. Jefferies also warned that global spare capacity, estimated around 2 million bpd, or 2 percent of demand, was "precariously low" given the frequency of unexpected disruptions recently, including pipeline interruptions and strikes, as well as "the dire fiscal situation of producers like Venezuela, Iraq and Nigeria."
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Tim Kaine was picked late Friday as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate. Despite his protestations as recently as this week that he was too dull to get the nod, his selection was viewed as a lock by Friday morning. Clinton announced her pick via social media and text message. Here are some facts about the U.S. senator from Virginia: Doubling down on experience: Like his would-be boss, Kaine has both executive and legislative experience. Elected to the Senate in 2012, the 58-year-old had been governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010. At the helm of the Old Dominion, he oversaw a state whose unemployment rate didn’t spike as much the country’s did overall during the Great Recession. It’s a fair question whether that performance can be credited to Kaine’s stewardship or the fact that the federal government kept employment levels high in the region. Consider: Neighboring Maryland’s unemployment rate also was better than the national rate (though worse than Virginia’s) while Kaine was governor. Él habla español: Kaine is fluent in Spanish, having served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Honduras. In fact, he discussed an immigration bill on the floor of the U.S. Senate entirely in Spanish, making him the first senator ever to do so. To be fair, Clinton already is handily leading Trump among Hispanic voters — with an incredible 69-point margin, per one poll — but a key will be getting Latinos to the polls on Election Day. Free trader: Kaine’s no Trump — or Bernie Sanders, for that matter — on trade. He’s been a proponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement and voted in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Asian trade pact that Clinton helped negotiate as secretary of state but has repudiated as a presidential candidate. Fans on Wall Street: By industry, Kaine has received the third highest proportion of his political donations from the “securities and investment” sector, per data from OpenSecrets, running behind only lawyers and the retired. Kaine has taken some heat from liberal groups for supporting looser rules on regional and community banks. One such regional bank, Capital One, is based in McLean, Va. Gift recipient: Kaine accepted about $160,000 in gifts while governor, and lieutenant governor, of Virginia. That’s legal under Virginia laws, and Kaine’s campaign has emphasized that he’s gone beyond disclosure requirements. One gift came from generic-drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals, which gave him $12,000 to cover expenses at the Democratic Governors Association meeting in 2006.
The dollar fell against the yen on Thursday as expectations faded of the Bank of Japan delivering the radical stimulus package some had expected this week, and after the U.S. Federal Reserve stopped short of flagging a near-term rate rise. Japan's prime minister unveiled a surprisingly large 28 trillion yen ($265 billion) stimulus package on Wednesday, putting pressure on the central bank to match it with aggressive monetary easing and fuelling speculation that unconventional policies like "helicopter money" - giving cash directly to businesses and consumers - might be on the cards. But sources told Reuters earlier on Thursday that the government is planning direct fiscal spending of 7 trillion yen to help fund the stimulus package which, at just a quarter of the total package, could disappoint some market players bracing for bigger outlays given the headline figure. The dollar fell as much as 0.9 percent to 104.48 yen JPY=. "People were thinking that the larger the fiscal stimulus package, the more likely that the government would have to coordinate with the BOJ and that would increase the likelihood of some form of helicopter-money-type announcement tomorrow," said Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ currency economist Lee Hardman, from London. "But the reality is that the BOJ won't be making that kind of announcement ... The market was too optimistic in expecting more aggressive easing from Japan, and those expectations are being pared back." Strategists say the yen could be in for volatile trading on Friday, and the dollar might even test the 2 1/2-year low of 99 yen in the wake of Britain's vote to exit the European Union. "Investors will be closely watching not just the statement, but (BOJ Governor Haruhiko) Kuroda's press conference after the meeting ends, for clues to future policy," said Kumiko Ishikawa, senior FX analyst at Gaitame.Com Research Institute in Tokyo. A Citi survey of its clients and financial institutions earlier this month showed 80 percent expected the dollar to fall more than 3 percent against the yen if the BOJ stands pat on Friday and does not signal any action in September. More than 30 percent think the drop would be more than 4 percent. The Fed, meanwhile, said on Wednesday after its two-day policy meeting that it was less worried about possible shocks to the U.S. economy, suggesting that a hike as early as September was not out of the question though not signaling it clearly. The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against a basket of six major rivals, slipped 0.7 percent to a two-week low of 96.343 .DXY. That put it on track for its biggest one-day fall in eight weeks.
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