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Oil prices rise after steep drop in U.S. crude inventories

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Author of the article: Reuters Sonali Paul and Koustav Samanta SINGAPORE — Oil prices rose on Wednesday, extending gains from the previous session after industry data indicated U.S. crude stocks fell much more than expected last week, reinforcing bullish views on fuel demand in the world’s largest economy. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures…

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Sonali Paul and Koustav Samanta

SINGAPORE — Oil prices rose on Wednesday, extending gains from the previous session after industry data indicated U.S. crude stocks fell much more than expected last week, reinforcing bullish views on fuel demand in the world’s largest economy.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 48 cents, or 0.7%, to $66.17 a barrel at 0440 GMT, after climbing to $66.58, a level not seen since March 8.

Brent crude futures were up 49 cents, or 0.7%, at $69.37 barrel after touching a more than seven-week high of $69.78 earlier in the session.

Both benchmark contracts rose nearly 2% on Tuesday ahead of data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) industry group.

“Crude oil prices appear to be supported by a large draw in crude and gasoline inventories, according to API figures,” said Margaret Yang, a strategist at Singapore-based DailyFX.

“The energy demand outlook is brightened by eased lockdown measures in parts of the U.S. and UK, which helped to offset concerns over lower demand from India and Japan. The upcoming summer driving season may further boost fuel demand and support oil prices.”

API figures showed crude stocks fell by 7.7 million barrels in the week ended April 30, according to two market sources. That was more than triple the drawdown expected by analysts polled by Reuters.

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Traders are awaiting data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday to see if official data shows such a large drawdown.

“If confirmed by the EIA, that would mark the largest weekly fall in the official data since late January,” Commonwealth Bank analyst Vivek Dhar said in a note.

The rise in oil prices to nearly two-month highs has been supported by COVID-19 vaccine rollouts in the United States and Europe, paving the way for pandemic lockdowns to be lifted and air travel to pick up.

So far that has more than offset a drop in fuel demand in India, which is battling a surge in infections.

“However, if we were to eventually see a national lockdown imposed, this would likely hit sentiment,” ING Economics analysts said of the situation in India.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul in MELBOURNE and Koustav Samanta in SINGAPORE; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Richard Pullin)

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Asian Stocks Erase 2021 Gains on Concerns Over Inflation, Virus

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Author of the article: Bloomberg News Min Jeong Lee (Bloomberg) — Asian stocks dropped, with the regional benchmark briefly erasing its gains for the year, as mounting worries over inflation and a resurgence in Covid-19 cases soured investor sentiment. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid as much as 1% and was down 0.9% as of…

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Min Jeong Lee

(Bloomberg) — Asian stocks dropped, with the regional benchmark briefly erasing its gains for the year, as mounting worries over inflation and a resurgence in Covid-19 cases soured investor sentiment.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid as much as 1% and was down 0.9% as of 12:52 p.m. in Tokyo, tracking losses in American shares after data on Wednesday showed U.S. consumer prices climbed in April by the most since 2009. The Asian gauge has now fallen more than 9% from a Feb. 17 peak.

Tech stocks have been at the forefront of a selloff in global equities this week as an explosive rally in commodity prices threatens to push up inflation. Asia’s tech shares, which are contending with higher U.S. bond yields and stretched valuations just like their global peers, have also been hurt by regulatory tightening in China. Further, a fresh surge in infections in several countries including India, Japan and parts of Southeast Asia is weighing on regional stocks.

“We need to kind of price in a more normal interest-rate environment, more normal inflation environment,” said Ken Peng, head of Asia investment strategy at Citigroup Inc.’s private-banking arm. “The shake up could last a while longer. But I’m still not too worried because, growth will comeback to be the most important element once interest rates normalize.”

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Technology and communication services were the worst-performing sectors on the Asian gauge Thursday.

Japanese shares declined for a third day on Thursday, while stocks in China snapped a two-day winning run. Markets in Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were shut for a holiday. In Taiwan, the benchmark stock index extended losses after slumping the most since March last year on Wednesday partly due to concern over tightening of virus-linked restrictions.

SECTORS TO WATCH

Stocks linked to cryptocurrencies fell in line with the slump in Bitcoin, after Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk expressed concerns over its energy usageTraditional Chinese medicine firms advanced as President Xi Jinping called for the development of the treatments after experience gained from COVID-19

MARKETS AT A GLANCE

Japan’s Topix index down 0.6%; Nikkei 225 down 1.8%Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index down 1%; Hang Seng China Enterprises down 1.2%; Shanghai Composite down 0.7%; CSI 300 down 0.8%Taiwan’s Taiex index down 0.7%South Korea’s Kospi index down 0.5%; Kospi 200 down 0.7%Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6%; New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 down 1.1%Thailand’s SET down 1.4%; Vietnam’s VN Index down 0.2%

ADVANCERS

Seven & i Holdings jumped as much as 7.4% in Tokyo as ValueAct Capital disclosed the acquisition of a 4.3% stake in the operator of convenience storesKirin rose as much as 4.3%, the most since Nov. 16, after the Japanese beer maker beat quarterly profit expectationsChina Mengniu Dairy jumped as much as 5.4% after Danone finalized its HK$15.4 billion ($1.98 billion) sale of approximately 9.8% stake in MengniuGrainCorp added as much as 8.3%, the most since Nov. 13, after the Australian agricultural company raised its FY earnings forecastHanwha Life Insurance surged as much as 8.7% after its 1Q report showed earnings jumped nearly four foldNTT climbed as much as 2.8% after the telecom giant’s quarterly profit and forecast for the current fiscal year beat analyst estimates

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DECLINERS

SoftBank Group declined as much as 6.7% as its record quarterly profit failed to impress a market reeling from a global selloff in tech stocksGongniu Group dropped as much as 9.7% in Shanghai after the company said it was under investigations by local authorities for monopolistic behaviorPerenti Global tumbled as much as 28%, the most since March 2020, after the Australian mining services company cut its guidanceChina Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group sank 8.7% in Hong Kong after its parent sold 260m shares at HK$40.92 apiece, a 20% discount to last closeNexon slid as much as 17% after the game developer forecast as much as a 19% y/y decline in operating profit in 1H

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Bloomberg.com

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Gold up on hopes for continued low rates, firm yields cap gains

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Author of the article: Gold edged up on Thursday on hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve would not raise interest rates anytime soon, although a jump in U.S. Treasury yields following a strong rise in April consumer prices capped gains. Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,818.22 per ounce by 0318 GMT, after falling more…

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Gold edged up on Thursday on hopes that

the U.S. Federal Reserve would not raise interest rates anytime

soon, although a jump in U.S. Treasury yields following a strong

rise in April consumer prices capped gains.

Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,818.22 per ounce by 0318

GMT, after falling more than 1% in the previous session.

U.S. gold futures eased 0.2% to $1,818.80.

“We’re still getting on the aftershock of that consumer

price index release and the expectations now from the market

that the Fed will be forced to do something about inflation,” IG

Market analyst Kyle Rodda said.

The Fed, however, has been reiterating that inflation will

be so transitory that it won’t have to worry about adjusting

interest rates, he added.

Data on Wednesday showed U.S. consumer prices increased by

the most in nearly 12 years in April, intensifying concerns over

rising inflation.

Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said the twin surprises of

weak jobs growth and strong inflation in April has not dented

the U.S. central bank’s plans to keep its support for the

economy wide open.

Lower U.S. interest rates put pressure on the dollar and

bond yields, increasing the appeal of non-yielding bullion.

However, worries over rising inflation lifted benchmark U.S.

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10-year Treasury yields to their highest in more

than a month, while the dollar held firm.

“The stronger dollar and higher U.S. rates punished the

precious metals group (yesterday),” ED&F Man Capital Markets

analyst Edward Meir said in a note.

“Although we suspect that this weakness will prove to be

short-lived given rising inflationary expectations and a Fed

that at least for now, does not seem to be too eager to raise

rates.”

Palladium gained 0.9% to $2,882.69 per ounce. Silver

was steady at $27.04 per ounce, while platinum was

up 0.6% at $1,217.01.

(Reporting by Shreyansi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi

Aich and Vinay Dwivedi)

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Tesla’s Musk halts use of bitcoin for car purchases

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Author of the article: Reuters Hyunjoo Jin and Kanishka Singh Tesla Inc will no longer accept bitcoin for car purchases, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Wednesday, citing long-brewing environmental concerns for a swift reversal in the company’s position on the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin fell more than 10% after Musk tweeted his decision to suspend its…

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Hyunjoo Jin and Kanishka Singh

Tesla Inc will no longer accept bitcoin for car purchases, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Wednesday, citing long-brewing environmental concerns for a swift reversal in the company’s position on the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin fell more than 10% after Musk tweeted his decision to suspend its use, less than two months after Tesla began accepting the world’s biggest digital currency for payment. Other cryptocurrencies, including ethereum, also fell before regaining some ground in Asia trade.

The use of bitcoin to buy Tesla’s electric vehicles had highlighted a dichotomy between Musk’s reputation as an environmentalist and the use of his popularity and stature as one of the world’s richest people to back cryptocurrencies.

Some Tesla investors, along with environmentalists, have been increasingly critical about the way bitcoin is “mined” using vast amounts of electricity generated with fossil fuels.

Musk said on Wednesday he backed that concern, especially the use of “coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”

“Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment,” he tweeted. Tesla shares fell 1.25% after hours.

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Tesla revealed in February it had bought $1.5 billion of bitcoin, before accepting it as payment for cars in March, driving a roughly 20% surge in the cryptocurrency.

Tesla would retain its bitcoin holdings with the plan to use the cryptocurrency as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy sources, Musk said.

Bitcoin is created when high-powered computers compete against other machines to solve complex mathematical puzzles, an energy-intensive process that currently often relies on electricity generated with fossil fuels, particularly coal.

At current rates, such bitcoin “mining” devours about the same amount of energy annually as the Netherlands did in 2019, the latest available data from the University of Cambridge and the International Energy Agency shows.

Analysts said Musk’s about-face was inevitable.

“The environmental impact from mining bitcoins was one of the biggest risks for the entire crypto market,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at currency trading firm OANDA.

Meltem Demirors, chief strategy officer at digital asset manager CoinShares Group, said Tesla was unlikely to have sold many, if any, cars using bitcoin and the backflip generated positive publicity while simplifying payment processes.

“Elon was getting a lot of questions and criticisms and this statement allows him to appease critics while still keeping bitcoin on his balance sheet,” Demirors said.

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Mark Humphery-Jenner, an associate professor of finance at the University of New South Wales, said he was more concerned about Tesla management’s “very hasty and precipitous” decision-making.

Musk did not say in his Twitter comments whether any vehicles had been purchased with bitcoin and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CRYPTOCURRENCY SUPPORT

Some bitcoin proponents note that the existing financial system – with its millions of employees and computers in air-conditioned offices – uses large amounts of energy too.

Musk reiterated he remained a strong believer in cryptocurrencies.

“We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use

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