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Oil prices rise 1% in early trading as tensions in the Middle East mount – CNBC



Oil prices jumped 1% during Sunday night trading — building on Friday’s gains — as tensions in the Middle East escalated over the weekend.

Following Thursday’s death of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, on Sunday an Iranian state-run television broadcast said that the nation would no longer respect uranium enrichment restrictions set forth in 2015’s nuclear deal.

International benchmark Brent crude gained 1.5% to trade at $69.64 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate climbed 1.3% to $63.86 per barrel.

On Friday Brent hit a more than three month high of $69.50, before settling at $68.60. Meantime WTI rose to a session high of $64.09 — its highest level since April — before pulling back to settle at $63.05, for a gain of 3.06%.

Iran has vowed to retaliate against the U.S., and the form that this retaliation takes will determine oil’s next move, according to Wall Street analysts. For instance, if the nation targets production in Saudi Arabia or Iraq — OPEC’s two largest producers — prices could move higher for longer.

On Friday, Citi global head of commodity research Ed Morse said that Brent prices will top $70 in short order, while Again Capital’s John Kilduff said that if Iraq production takes a hit “oil prices will spike higher.”

Iraq is OPEC’s second largest oil producer, pumping around 4.6 million barrels per day in December. On Sunday the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for an expulsion of foreign troops, which raises question about the future of the allied mission that has successfully fought the “Islamic State,” or ISIS, in recent years.

Helima Croft, RBC’s global head of commodity research, noted that in the past a geopolitical event of this nature would have caused a larger spike in oil, which demonstrates how resilient prices have become to geopolitical tensions.

This resiliency was on display in September after drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais took an estimated 5.7 million barrels of oil offline. While oil initially spiked 8% and climbed higher, prices ultimately drifted back down and a few weeks later were back at pre-attack levels after Saudi Aramco quickly restored production.

But this time around prices could stay elevated for longer, given tight supply and a historically weak part of the year for oil.

On Friday Eurasia Group raised its 2020 high-end base case oil target to $75 per barrel, based on “rising risk to oil infrastructure in the region.” If conflict breaks out, which the firm’s Middle East and North Africa head of research Ayham Kamel places at 30% likelihood, prices could climb as high as $95.

Citi said that other possible retaliations could be “attacks on pipeline oil flows or shipping through either the Strait of Hormuz or the Red Sea,” through which more than a fifth of the world’s oil supply flows.

Thursday’s airstrike comes following an especially strong fourth quarter for oil, which saw OPEC+ announce deeper-than-expected production cuts in December, and as easing trade tensions led to upbeat outlooks for demand.

WTI gained 10.68% in December — its best month since January 2019 — and 12.93% for the quarter. It’s 34.46% gain for the year was its best since 2016. Brent gained 5.7% in December and 8.59% for the quarter. It also had its best year since 2016, gaining 22.68%.

Carter Braxton Worth from Cornerstone Macro said WTI looks set to reach $72 per barrel, and that investors should “embrace” the pop. “It will be right to play energy stocks on the long side in the weeks/months again,” he said in a note to clients Sunday.

That said, analysts at Morgan Stanley said that “any further escalation could keep oil prices supported in the short term,” but that any gains could be short lived. The firm said it sees Brent closer to $60 rather than $70 for the year given “an oversupplied oil market in 2020 as a whole.”

– CNBC’s Michael Bloom, Amanda Macias and Spencer Kimball contributed to this report.

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All trading on TSX halted due to order entry issue – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



The Canadian Press

Published Thursday, February 27, 2020 2:16PM EST

Last Updated Thursday, February 27, 2020 11:30PM EST

TORONTO – Trading abruptly ended early Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange and several other TMX Group Ltd. markets after the company suspended the exchanges because of what it says were technical issues.

The trading halts, which came a over than two hours before the scheduled close, came on another day of sharp losses on fears of the novel coronavirus’s effect on global economic growth.

The TSX fell as much as 585 points and was down 325 points, or 1.9 per cent, when it was halted, while U.S. markets fell more than four per cent.

The company said it halted the markets because clients were unable to enter, modify or cancel open orders on TSX, TSXV and Alpha exchanges, and it had also halted its derivatives-focused Montreal Exchange.

“We apologize for the inconvenience,” the company said in a statement. “Due to the nature of the issue, TMX was unable to engage disaster recovery systems in time to ensure an orderly market re-open and closing session.”

The company said the interruption was caused by a system capacity issue within the messaging technology component of TMX’s trading engine.

TMX said it has taken measures to mitigate the risk of recurrence, including significantly increasing the capacity of this component.

“TMX confirms that this incident was not the result of a cybersecurity attack,” the company said in a release. “TMX also confirms that all systems are ready for the start of business on Friday.”

The halts came shortly before 2 p.m. and TMX confirmed at 3:17 p.m. that they would remain closed for the day. It has not yet said when the exchanges will reopen.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Martin Pelletier, managing director and portfolio manager at Wellington-Altus Private Counsel Inc. “You’re looking at what’s happening in the U.S., and not being able to do anything in Canada.”

Pelletier said he still had access to alternative markets like the NEO Exchange in Toronto, but they don’t have the same liquidity.

“Alternative markets were open, but it makes it very difficult for the average investor to rebalance, or even their adviser to work within their existing portfolio.”

Laura Lau, chief investment officer at Brompton Funds, said the glitch wasn’t great for Canada’s image.

“It’s not good for our reputation, certainly a black eye.”

She said the TSX would likely catch up to what Canadian stocks were trading at on the alternative markets when trading resumes, but those who wanted to sell Thursday were out of luck.

“When markets close for a holiday, they tend to catch up the next day. It’s more of an issue if you wanted to say, sell for cash, and you were going to do it in the last two hours of the day.”

The last time TMX closed the TSX early was on April 27, 2018, due to internal technical issues, and reopened the market on the next trading day.

The 2018 incident was caused by a hardware failure in a central storage appliance of the trading system, the company said.

At the time, then company CEO Lou Eccleston said the company was committed to applying the lessons learned from this incident to help it prevent such issues from recurring in the future.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2020.

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Dow Jones sinks nearly 1,200 points amid coronavirus worries, worst 1-day drop since 2011 – Global News



Worldwide markets plummeted again Thursday, deepening a weeklong rout triggered by growing anxiety that the coronavirus will wreak havoc on the global economy. The sweeping selloff gave U.S. stocks their worst one-day drop since 2011.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled nearly 1,200 points. The S&P 500 has now plunged 12% from the all-time high it set just a week ago.

That puts the index in what market watchers call a “correction,” which some analysts have said was long overdue in this bull market, the longest in history.

Stocks are now headed for their worst week since October 2008, during the global financial crisis.

Toronto stock exchange halts trading over technical issue, says systems ‘ready’ for Friday

The losses extended a slide that has wiped out the solid gains major indexes posted early this year.

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Investors came into 2020 feeling confident that the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates at low levels and the U.S.-China trade war posed less of a threat to company profits after the two sides reached a preliminary agreement in January. Even in the early days of the outbreak, markets took things in stride.

How COVID-19 may impact your pocketbook

How COVID-19 may impact your pocketbook

But over the past two weeks, a growing list of major companies issued warnings that profits could suffer as factory shutdowns across China disrupt supply chains and consumers there refrain from shopping.

Travel to and from China is severely restricted, and shares of airlines, hotels and cruise operators have been punished in stock markets. As the virus spread beyond China, markets feared the economic issues in China could escalate globally.

One sign of that is the big decline in oil prices, which slumped on expectations that demand will tail off sharply.

“This is a market that’s being driven completely by fear,” said Elaine Stokes, portfolio manager at Loomis Sayles, with market movements following the classic characteristics of a fear trade: Stocks are down. Commodities are down, and bonds are up.

Bond prices soared again Thursday as investors fled to safe investments. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell as low as 1.246%, a record low, according to TradeWeb. When yields fall, it’s a sign that investors are feeling less confident about the strength of the economy.

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COVID-19: U.S. stocks plunge as global outbreak continues

COVID-19: U.S. stocks plunge as global outbreak continues

Stokes said the swoon reminded her of the market’s reaction following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Eventually we’re going to get to a place where this fear, it’s something that we get used to living with, the same way we got used to living with the threat of living with terrorism,” she said. “But right now, people don’t know how or when we’re going to get there, and what people do in that situation is to retrench.”

The virus has now infected more than 82,000 people globally and is worrying governments with its rapid spread beyond the epicenter of China.

Coronavirus is driving down stock prices — but experts say not to panic

Japan will close schools nationwide to help control the spread of the new virus. Saudi Arabia banned foreign pilgrims from entering the kingdom to visit Islam’s holiest sites. Italy has become the center of the outbreak in Europe, with the spread threatening the financial and industrial centers of that nation.

At their heart, stock prices rise and fall with the profits that companies make. And Wall Street’s expectations for profit growth are sliding away. Apple and Microsoft, two of the world’s biggest companies, have already said their sales this quarter will feel the economic effects of the virus.

Goldman Sachs on Thursday said earnings for companies in the S&P 500 index might not grow at all this year, after predicting earlier that they would grow 5.5%. Strategist David Kostin also cut his growth forecast for earnings next year.

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Advice to stock market investors: keep your eye on the spread of COVID-19

Advice to stock market investors: keep your eye on the spread of COVID-19

Besides a sharply weaker Chinese economy in the first quarter of this year, he sees lower demand for U.S. exporters, disruptions to supply chains and general uncertainty eating away at earnings growth.

Such cuts are even more impactful now because stocks are already trading at high levels relative to their earnings, raising the risk. Before the virus worries exploded, investors had been pushing stocks higher on expectations that strong profit growth was set to resume for companies after declining for most of 2019.

The S&P 500 recently traded at its most expensive level, relative to its expected earnings per share, since the dot-com bubble was deflating in 2002, according to FactSet. If profit growth doesn’t ramp up this year, that makes a highly priced stock market even more vulnerable.

Coronavirus cases double in France as Macron warns epidemic ‘on its way’

Goldman Sach’s Kostin predicted the S&P 500 could fall to 2,900 in the near term, which would be a nearly 7% drop from Wednesday’s close, before rebounding to 3,400 by the end of the year.

Traders are growing increasingly certain that the Federal Reserve will be forced to cut interest rates to protect the economy, and soon. They are pricing in a 96% probability of a cut at the Fed’s next meeting in March. Just a day before, they were calling for only a 33% chance, according to CME Group.

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The market’s sharp drop this week partly reflects increasing fears among many economists that the U.S. and global economies could take a bigger hit from the coronavirus than they previously thought.

Coronavirus fears wipe billions of dollars off China’s stock market

Coronavirus fears wipe billions of dollars off China’s stock market

Earlier assumptions that the impact would largely be contained in China and would temporarily disrupt manufacturing supply chains have been overtaken by concerns that as the virus spreads, more people in numerous countries will stay home, either voluntarily or under quarantine. Vacations could be canceled, restaurant meals skipped, and fewer shopping trips taken.

“A global recession is likely if COVID-19 becomes a pandemic, and the odds of that are uncomfortably high and rising with infections surging in Italy and Korea,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

The market rout will also likely weaken Americans’ confidence in the economy, analysts say, even among those who don’t own shares. Such volatility can worry people about their own companies and job security. In addition, Americans that do own stocks feel less wealthy.

Both of those trends can combine to discourage consumer spending and slow growth.

AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise and Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber contributed to this report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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TSX halt leaves traders, investors in limbo on one of the busiest trading days of the year – The Globe and Mail



Trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange and other exchanges owned by TMX Group Ltd. came to an abrupt halt on Thursday afternoon, leaving traders and investors in limbo on one of the busiest trading days of the year.

Shortly before 2:00 p.m., TMX ordered a “technical halt” for the TSX, TSX-Venture Exchange and the Alpha Exchange, due to a “problem with order entry.” Derivatives trading on the Montreal Stock Exchange, which is owned by TMX, was also halted.

“Clients are currently unable to enter, modify or cancel open orders,” the exchange said in a statement, shortly after the halt. A TMX spokesperson said the company was investigating the issue, but did not elaborate on what caused the order processing problem that prompted the shutdown.

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The spokesperson added that the company did not know whether trading would resume at a regular time on Friday.

Thursday’s stoppage came at a dramatic moment, cutting short a day of intense selling that saw the S&P/TSX Composite Index drop 323 points or 1.9 per cent as concern mounts about the economic impact of coronavirus.

For professional traders, the halt caused disarray as orders remained unfilled and trading positions were left open.

“If you’ve got an order out there on the TMX, and you can’t cancel it, we need to know how the system is going to be brought back to life. Is there a chance of a double fill, by selling too much or by buying too much? These are concerns that people need to be cognizant of,” said Pete Gombocz, managing director of Velocity Trade Capital Ltd.

The TMX Group said in a statement that prior to re-opening the exchange, it will “provide sufficient time in a pre-open state for participants to manage their orders”

As Canada’s largest exchanges shut down, traders began routing their trades through smaller exchanges such as the NEO Exchange, and through alternative trading systems such as Omega and Chi-X. This took some of the pressure off the build-up of un-executed orders. However, far fewer shares trade hands on these smaller exchanges, making access to liquidity a challenge.

“The ability to enter and exit a trade is certainly hampered,” Mr. Gombocz said.

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The early shutdown caused additional problems for people trying to manage margin calls, said Anthony George, head trader at INFOR Financial Group Inc. A margin call happens when people have borrowed money to buy stock, and the price of the stock declines, meaning they have to put more money into the trading account to make up for the shortfall.

“There’s capital issues people have. You’re up against margin. And without the access to sell, to liquidity, you’re breaking the rule,” Mr. George said, referring to rules around margin requirements.

“Margin calls come out at 2:15, and the market was halted at 1:54… You can go to those other exchanges and sell 100 shares or 200 shares, but you’re not getting the same liquidity,” he said.

Order processing problems used to be a relatively frequent occurrence on the TSX, said Mr. Gombocz, who worked for the exchange in the 1990s and early 2000s, although things have improved in recent years.

“I think the system and the technology today has been built to withstand a lot more [volume] than they would see on an everyday basis, so those spikes that you would see in trading volumes and order flow, I think those have been factored into how they built their processing,” Mr. Gombocz said.

“It is technology, technology does break, but they’ve had a good track record,” he added.

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