Markets win boost on rising chances of OPEC oil cut
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih (bottom right) attends a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria on November 30, 2016.
OPEC sought to defy expectations and finalise a deal reducing its oil output for the first time in eight years, in an effort to boost painfully low crude prices. / AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR
Oil prices rallied five percent Wednesday, pushing European stocks higher, as traders seized on hints that OPEC could later decide to cut crude output.
Saudi Arabia’s influential oil minister Khaled al-Falih expressed optimism that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries — which pumps about a third of global oil — would announce Wednesday a deal to cut production in a market awash with crude.
The comments boosted the global oil market as ministers from the 14-nation cartel gathered for a crucial output meeting in Vienna.
That in turn boosted the share prices of Europe’s energy sector because higher oil prices tend to translate into rising revenues and profits.
Around midday, the Paris and London stock markets were up about 0.4 percent in value compared with Tuesday’s close.
British energy majors BP and Shell soared by about three percent, while French peer Total won 1.0 percent.
“The FTSE is… in rude health, as the rising chance of an OPEC output cut has driven energy firms into the green,” said analyst Joshua Mahony at traders IG.
“Despite starting the day on a gloomy tone, with RBS failing the Bank of England stress tests, it seems that markets are willing to focus on the positives, with rumours of a crude cut that could surpass expectations.”
London had been hampered in earlier deals after the BoE had revealed that the Royal Bank of Scotland had failed sector-wide stress tests.
Asian equities had struggled Wednesday with investors growing uneasy over the chances of an output-cutting OPEC deal.
– Volatility on trading floors –
Uncertainty over the deal — with Iran and Iraq calling to be excluded and Russia looking only to freeze, rather than cut — has fuelled volatility on oil trading floors in the past week and on Tuesday both main oil contracts had plunged four percent.
“Failure to come up with a viable solution will see oil much lower tomorrow,” warned Oanda analyst Jeffrey Halley.
“The convoluted nature of the negotiations means compliance going forward will be an issue as well, one suspects.”
Worries about oil have weighed on global equities, which have enjoyed a strong few weeks since Donald Trump’s shock US election win, on hopes his policies will ramp up economic growth.
All three main New York indexes rose Tuesday after data showed stronger-than-expected third-quarter US growth, higher housing prices in September and a sharp rebound in consumer confidence in November.
Investors are also awaiting a referendum Sunday in Italy on constitutional reform. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has suggested he will step down if voters reject the proposal.
There are fears his resignation could spark elections in which populist anti-euro parties could do well, and possibly even lead to the country leaving the EU.
Also on the horizon this week are the release of US jobs data and a slew of manufacturing indicators that could provide a better picture of the state of the world’s top economies.
– Key figures around 1100 GMT –
Oil – West Texas Intermediate for January delivery: UP $2.17 at $47.40 per barrel
Oil – Brent North Sea for January: UP $3.06 at $49.44
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 6,796.90 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 10,645
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 4,568.60
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,480
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: FLAT at 18,308.48 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 22,789.77 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 3,250.03 (close)
New York – Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 19,121.60 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0642 from $1.0650 Tuesday
Dollar/yen: UP at 113.06 yen from 112.36 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2435 from $1.2490
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