Oil producers from the OPEC+ coalition are discussing the possibility of slashing global crude oil production by 10 million bpd in cooperation with producers from outside the group, a source with OPEC told Reuters on Friday, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said he expected a massive cut from Saudi Arabia and Russia.
A final figure up for discussion would depend on the outcome of the meeting of President Trump with U.S. oil firms later on Friday and over the weekend, Reuters’ source said.
After days of speculation about President Trump getting involved in the Saudi-Russian oil price war that began claiming its first U.S. shale victims, President Trump said on Thursday that he had spoken with the Saudi Crown Prince and Russia, and hoped and expected that Saudi Arabia and Russia would “cut back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more,” sending oil prices soaring by 20 percent.
President Trump later on Thursday in a coronavirus press briefing added that the 10 million bpd figure had actually been discussed in the conversations and that it could be as much as 15 million bpd.
Saudi Arabia called on Thursday for an urgent meeting of the OPEC+ coalition and “another group of countries” to try to find “a fair solution” to the current market imbalance.
The emergency meeting will be held via video conference on Monday, April 6, non-OPEC producer Azerbaijan said on Friday, adding it had been invited to take part in the meeting initiated by Saudi Arabia after talks mediated by President Trump.
Saudi Arabia is signaling it will discuss cuts if more countries join, including the United States.
The other issue with such a cut is that the current loss of demand is probably more than twice the 10-million-bpd production cut.
After news of the OPEC+ meeting on Monday emerged, oil prices reversed earlier losses that were created by the media’s skepticism about a deal, jumping at 7:15 a.m. EDT on Friday, with Brent Crude soaring 8.18 percent at $32.39, and WTI Crude up 4.66 percent at $26.50.
The rebound in the U.S. labor market accelerated in June as the economy reopened more broadly, before a pickup in coronavirus cases that puts additional gains in jeopardy.
Payrolls rose by 4.8 million in June after an upwardly revised 2.7 million gain in the prior month, according to a Labor Department report Thursday. The unemployment rate fell for a second month, by 2.2 percentage points to 11.1 per cent, still far above the pre-pandemic half-century low of 3.5 per cent.
The June jobs report reflects a snapshot of mid-month conditions after a flurry of rehiring — particularly at restaurants and retailers — but before reopenings screeched to a halt amid rising virus cases around the country. That could slow or stall the rate of improvement in the labor market, with implications for President Donald Trump’s reelection chances, as well as for the extension of a U.S. stock-market rally following the best quarter since 1998.
U.S. stocks opened higher following the data. Treasuries and the dollar were lower.
A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial applications for unemployment insurance in regular state programs fell by less than expected, to 1.43 million, in the week ended June 27. Continuing claims — or claims for ongoing unemployment benefits in state programs — rose slightly to 19.3 million in the week ended June 20.
Economists had forecast payrolls to rise by 3.23 million — the median in a range of 500,000 to 9 million — and an unemployment rate of 12.5 per cent.
“We’re still coming off extremely high levels of unemployment, but every step counts,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
What Bloomberg’s Economists Say
“The upward surprise in the June jobs report demonstrates that economic fundamentals remain strong enough to facilitate a relatively robust recovery once COVID-19 is under control. However, in the near term, the positive signal somewhat fades given the recent sharp acceleration in new virus cases and the looming income cliff stemming from the expiration of augmented unemployment benefits this month.”
— Yelena Shulyatyeva, Andrew Husby and Eliza Winger
The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has largely fixed a problem that resulted in respondents being misclassified as employed when they should have been labeled as unemployed. Adjusted for the errors, the June unemployment rate would have been about 1 percentage point higher than reported — or 12.3 per cent, compared with an adjusted 16.4 per cent in May. “The degree of misclassification declined considerably in June,” BLS said.
A resurgence in virus cases has complicated the picture, leading states across the country to reverse or halt reopening efforts in hopes to slow the spread. That’s already led some rehired workers to get laid off once more. Paired with the coming expiration of the federal government’s extra US$600 in weekly unemployment benefits, the economy could take another hit in the months ahead.
In addition, the weekly figures show the number of Americans claiming jobless benefits remains extremely elevated, posting the first increase in state programs in four weeks.
The increase in payrolls was led by leisure and hospitality and retail, illustrating the effect of the easing of business restrictions. Health care also saw increases as doctors’ and dentists’ offices reopened.
It’s a “little more disconcerting that we’re not seeing broad-based gains across industries,” BMO’s Lee said.
State government payrolls fell by another 25,000 — the fourth straight decline — as budget situations grew more dire amid falling tax revenues.
Unemployment among minorities and women remained worse than among White Americans and men. The Black unemployment rate fell to 15.4 per cent from 16.8 per cent, while it declined to 10.1 per cent from 12.4 per cent among White Americans. Hispanic unemployment dropped to 14.5 per cent from 17.6 per cent.
Meanwhile, the household survey showed more than 2.8 million Americans permanently lost their job in June, a 588,000 increase from a month earlier that was the biggest since the start of 2009. While the total number is the highest in six years, the figure bears watching for more systemic damage to the labor market caused by the pandemic.
Average hourly earnings fell 1.2 per cent from the prior month, reflecting job gains among lower-paid workers, following a 1 per cent drop in May. Wages were up 5 per cent from the year before, as employment in lower-paid sectors remains well below year-earlier levels.
The average workweek fell to 34.5 hours from 34.7 hours in May.
The U-6 rate, also known as the underemployment rate, also fell to 18 per cent in a sign of positive momentum for the economy. Unlike the headline unemployment rate, also known as the U-3 rate, it accounts for those who quit looking for a job because they were discouraged about their prospects and those working part-time but desiring a full workweek.
A mass of Americans left the labor force after economic shutdowns led to widespread layoffs, but those people have started to come back. The labor force participation rate, or the proportion of the working-age population that is either working or actively looking for work, rose to 61.5 per cent from 60.8 per cent the prior month, though that’s the still far shy of where it was in February — at 63.4 per cent.
The increase in participation reflected a rise of 1.7 million people in the labor force.
Tesla Inc. became the most valuable car company in the world on Wednesday, a day before the electric car maker posted better-than-expected sales numbers.
Tesla announced that it delivered 90,650 vehicles during the quarter, better than the 74,130 vehicles that analysts who cover the company were forecasting.
That’s a decline of about five per cent from the number of cars it sold in the same period a year ago, but investors were impressed with the number because it’s less bad than the rest of the industry. New data on Thursday showed U.S. car sales in June were about 27 per cent below what they were in the same month last year.
Investors bid up Tesla share price to $1,218 a share before markets opened Thursday. That’s an increase of nine per cent.
It was enough to make Tesla the most valuable car company in the world, with the total value of all its shares on the Nasdaq, a figure known as market capitalization, adding up to $207 billion.
That’s more than any other car company and more than Toyota’s $203 billion, which was the previous highest value.
Tesla’s current stock price values the company at more than GM, Chrysler and Ford combined, despite those three U.S. automakers also selling far more cars than Tesla does every year.
Regardless of the apparent disconnect between expectations and reality, some in the investment community think the stock has even more room to grow.
Chaim Siegel of Elazar Advisors expects the company’s stock price to rise to $1,545 US in the next year.
“If they are able to accelerate profitability in a quarter missing so many production days, imagine a normal quarter levering more fixed costs,” he said in a note to clients. “Profitability will be even better.”
Analyst Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities called Tesla’s performance a “major home run” considering the backdrop of COVID-19. “In our opinion, a 90K delivery number in this COVID lockdown environment is a jaw-dropper,” Ives said.
He has a price target of $1,250 on the shares, but his most optimistic scenario forecasts the stock at $2,000 US apiece.
Tesla may soon join S&P 500
While a lot of the excitement over Tesla is built on nothing more than hype, the company does have one fundamental factor going for it that is likely to add to the buying. Tesla isn’t a member of the influential S&P 500 collection of stocks.
But analysts expect S&P may soon have to include Tesla because it meets the requirements.
“Stringing together profitable quarters increases their chance for inclusion into the S&P 500,” Siegel said. “That would force many large funds to have to buy.”
Earlier this week in an internal email, CEO Elon Musk called on employees to work hard to allow Tesla to break even in the quarter despite the coronavirus crisis.
“While our main factory in Fremont was shut down for much of the quarter, we have successfully ramped production back to prior levels,” the automaker said in a statement.
During the period from April to June, most of the United States was under government-imposed stay-at-home orders to combat the spread of the virus, which impacted production and caused a plunge in auto sales.
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