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Traders Dump Oil As Concerns About The Economy Persist

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Money managers fled the oil market in the week to May 2, reversing two weeks of buying petroleum futures and contracts spurred by the new production cuts announced by several large OPEC+ members in early April.

A month after the OPEC+ group surprised the oil market by announcing additional cuts to production between May and December 2023 to ensure the “stability of the market,” oil prices are where they were just before the announcement, in the mid-$70s per barrel Brent. 

The initial euphoria from an expected additional market tightening gave way to renewed concerns about the macroeconomic backdrop with a recession looming. Continued concerns about the banking sector did not help the bullish narrative either.

So hedge funds and other money managers cut their bullish bets in the most traded petroleum futures and options contracts for a second consecutive week in the week to May 2, reversing the more bullish positions they had amassed in the two weeks after OPEC+ announced the latest production cuts.

WTI Crude, the U.S. benchmark, saw the biggest drop in the net long position – the difference between bullish and bearish bets – in six weeks in the week to May 2, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) showed.

In the petroleum complex, including WTI, Brent, European gasoil, U.S. diesel, and U.S. gasoline, the ratio of bullish to bearish bets slumped to just 2.22 to 1 as of May 2, Reuters’ senior market analyst John Kemp notes, as traders slashed longs and added shorts. Related: Texas Natural Gas Prices Turn Negative 

To compare, the longs-to-shorts ratio was 5 to 1 in the middle of April when traders were buying crude and many short sellers were caught off-guard by the OPEC+ cuts. Back in early April, a massive short covering and a renewed buying spree in oil futures followed in the two days after OPEC+ said it would keep another more than 1 million bpd off the market for the rest of the year.

In the latest reporting week to May 2, money managers cut their long positions and added short positions, thus reducing their net bullish bets in both WTI Crude and Brent Crude futures and options contracts. Brent, WTI, and European gasoil – the proxy for diesel – were the hardest hit by selling.  

The traders’ positioning in the benchmark U.S. and European diesel futures even showed a net short position, one in which bearish bets outnumber bullish ones. The net short position in ICE gasoil futures continued to swell to a fresh high in more than seven years, suggesting that traders are increasingly concerned about future diesel demand and expect a recession.

In the previous reporting week to April 25, selling in distillates had accelerated and ICE gasoil flipped to a net short for only the third time in seven years, while the net long in ULSD – the benchmark diesel futures for fuel delivered into New York Harbor – was slashed by 44% to a 27-month low.

In the U.S., signs have emerged in recent weeks that U.S. diesel demand and prices have weakened this year as freight and industrial activities have slowed amid higher interest rates and falling consumer demand for goods. Some refiners are already seeing a drag on diesel demand caused by the sticky inflation, while transportation and logistics firms say a “freight recession” is already happening, and smaller trucking companies are folding up.

Speculators have been consistently caught off-guard in the past two months, and many have now opted to stay away. Lower open interest and liquidity in the market is bound to make price swings even more extreme, according to analysts.

Despite the bearish sentiment in the oil market, analysts and investment banks still see higher crude oil prices at the end of this year, with demand set to pick up with the driving season, and supply expected to tighten with the OPEC+ cuts in the second half of 2023.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

 

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What Determines Your Worth to an Employer? The Job Market, or You?

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Impress Your Interviewer with Your Questions — Part 1

Being paid what you’re worth is a hot topic.

 

Five anecdotal examples of how employers assess a job’s worth:

 

  1. A Vancouver-based software company pays $180,000 for a senior developer role, citing the high cost of living and intense competition for talent.
  2. A nationwide retail chain compensates its store associates according to regional minimum wage laws rather than their individual skills and experience.
  3. Even though the ideal candidate must have extensive fundraising expertise, a non-profit organization lowers the salary range for a grant writer position to accommodate the decline in donations.
  4. A rural manufacturing plant pays its production workers less than their urban counterparts, citing the lower cost of living.
  5. A consulting firm’s compensation packages for junior analysts include a base salary, bonuses, and stock options designed to attract top graduates.

 

In the same way, the price of milk, housing, or dog food varies from store to store and region to region; a position’s worth isn’t universal. What’s universal when determining the value of a position is to consider the expected return on investment (ROI) for the employee’s salary:

 

  1. Productivity: For production roles, employers estimate the candidate’s potential output, efficiency, and contribution to revenue or cost savings based on their skills, experience, and track record.
  2. Revenue Generation: For revenue-generating roles, employers predict how the candidate will increase sales, secure new clients, or expand the business.
  3. Cost Savings: For operational roles, employers estimate the employee’s potential to improve processes, reduce errors, or streamline workflows, quantifying the expected cost savings the candidate will deliver.
  4. Market Rates: Companies research salary benchmarks for similar roles in their industry and region.
  5. Affordability (cash flow): How much can the company spend on payroll? (Companies closely monitor their payroll, their largest expense, to keep it from being a “profit distraction.”)

 

These factors help employers determine what compensation will make the position worthwhile; in other words, the employee adds more value than their salary will cost.

 

Three key takeaways:

 

  1. Employers seek to maximize the ROI on their human capital.
  2. Candidates are more valuable when they’re seen as synonymous with profits.
  3. Worth (read: value) in the business world isn’t subjective; it must be proven.

 

Internet talking heads, trying to appeal to today’s prevalent sense of entitlement, advise job seekers to “demand their worth.” This advice is the cause of the dilemma many job seekers struggle with: Should I base my compensation expectation on what I think I’m worth or what the job market says the job is worth?

 

Wrong question!

 

Job seekers should ask themselves, “Should I base my compensation expectation on what I can prove I’m worth or what the job market says the job is worth?”

 

Always strive to prove what you’re worth, especially during an interview, while considering the following:

 

Evaluate the job responsibilities.

 

Expertise-intensive, decision-making-intensive, complex, or business-critical roles garner higher compensation. For instance, senior data scientists earn more than entry-level data analysts.

 

Additionally, there’s the scope and scale of the role. Directors and managers overseeing multimillion-dollar budgets or large teams are valued more highly than those in smaller managerial roles.

 

Know the industry standard.

 

Platforms like Glassdoor, PayScale, and Salary.com, as well as government labour statistics and industry association surveys, provide crowdsourced salary data you can use as a starting point. Even though the objective of proving your worth is to obtain the highest compensation possible, you don’t want to ask for compensation that’s excessively outside the ballpark.

 

Supply and demand. (a critical factor)

 

ECON 101: Supply and demand influence price; hence, roles with a limited talent pool and high demand will naturally command a higher salary.

 

The shortage of certain specialized technical skills, such as cybersecurity or data engineering, increases the cost of hiring those candidates. Conversely, recruiters and talent acquisition specialists are abundant, so employers can be more selective and offer lower salaries.

 

The employer’s budget. (the most significant determining factor)

 

Employers aren’t a bottomless pit of money. As much as 70% of a business’s expenses can be attributed to labour costs (wages, benefits, payroll tax). Much like we’re constrained by financial realities when shopping for “whatever,” employers are similarly constrained when hiring.

 

Organizational size, revenue, profitability, investor and shareholder demands, and strategic priorities are considered when determining a position’s wage. Generally, companies allocate higher compensation budgets to roles essential to achieving their key objectives.

 

Never base your expectations solely on your own sense of worth. Research industry benchmarks, regional pay trends, and the specific demands of the role. Then, be prepared to discuss and justify the measurable value (key) you can bring to the employer. Highlight your unique skills, experience, and, most importantly, the results you’ve delivered.

 

  • Grew email subscriber list from 300 to 2,000 in 8 months with no budget increase.
  • Managed 500+ customer accounts for 5 years without a complaint and got a 98% rating on reviews online.
  • Wrote 400+ informative articles, increasing organic website traffic by 21%.

 

The job market is the primary determinant of a role’s worth—not your personal assessment. (Why should employers be responsible for the lifestyle you created?) A successful job search comes down to convincing an employer that your compensation request will result in a positive ROI.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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Before Spending Money on a ‘Career Coach,’ Do Yourself a Favour, First Try These Job Search Strategies

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I’m sure you’re aware of the “career coaching” industry—Internet talking heads promising job search and career success—that’s sprung up in recent years. Worth noting: The industry is unregulated. All career coaches are self-proclaimed; no certification or licensing is required.

 

Career coaches have one ultimate goal: To make money off you.

 

Today’s tight job market is making job seekers frustrated and desperate, which career coaches are taking advantage of with their promise of insider knowledge, personalized guidance, and a direct line to the hidden job market. Career coaches market themselves as a shortcut to finding a job, which is appealing when you’ve been unemployed for a while.

 

I’m not averse to hiring a career coach to assist you with your job search; it’s your money. However, keep in mind a career coach…

 

  • is a significant expense, especially if you’re unemployed
  • will only offer common sense advice, nothing that you probably already don’t know or haven’t read or heard before, and
  • doesn’t have insider knowledge

 

…and you’ll still need to do the activities related to job searching.

 

When asked, “Nick, should I hire a career coach?” my answer is an unequivocal “No!” Conducting your job search solo will not only save you money, you’ll also be developing job search skills you’ll need for the next time—chances are there’ll be a next time—you’re job hunting. Before spending thousands of dollars on a career coach, I suggest first trying the following job search strategies.

 

Optimize your online presence.

 

In today’s digital-first job market, employers will check your online digital footprint to evaluate your candidacy; are your interview-worthy? Start with the obvious: Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and showcases your quantified accomplishments (a non-quantified statement is an opinion) so employers can see the value you can add. Do yourself a favour, read LinkedIn Mastery: A Comprehensive Guide to Navigating Digital Landscapes Effectively, by Benjamin Stone.

 

Necessary: Stay active on LinkedIn!

 

Your LinkedIn profile can’t be non-active. Maximizing LinkedIn’s potential requires regularly engaging with content, commenting on posts, and contributing original content. Engaging actively and visibly on LinkedIn will lead to opportunities.

 

Next:

 

  • List your social media accounts.
  • Deactivate accounts you are no longer using.
  • Set any accounts you don’t want prospective employers or recruiters to see to private.
  • Ensure your social media profiles (g., display name, handle, headshot, bio) convey the same message about your professional background.

 

Leverage your existing network (a low-hanging fruit few job seekers take advantage of).

 

Everyone has a network of some sort. This means since all job opportunities are attached to people—good news—there are job opportunities all around you. Often, your barista, dentist, hairstylist, neighbours, fellow members of whatever club or association you’re a part of, and, of course, family and friends can help open doors for you.

 

Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a new job. Always carry extra copies of your resume and hand them out when appropriate. You’ll be surprised at the number of people willing to help you when they understand your situation.

 

Read these two books:

 

 

Ferrazzi outlines practical strategies for building relationships, networking, and leveraging connections

.

 

Hollins provides actionable strategies for achieving your job search and career goals, such as overcoming procrastination and boosting productivity with focus and discipline.

 

Apply less, connect more.

 

Applying online is a waste of time. In previous columns, I’ve noted that applying online is comparable to playing the lottery; you’re hoping a stranger hires you. Numerous studies have shown that most jobs aren’t advertised; they’re filled through connections and referrals.

 

Job searching today is a long game; you need to be patient. Today, you need to network your way into a company and identify opportunities, which no career coach can do for you. It’s unlikely the resume you submit online will be reviewed. Paying to have your resume redesigned won’t get it more views; getting it in front of people who can hire you will.

 

Take what you will from the following.

 

A few months back, a job seeker asked me, “I’ve been working as a help desk agent at a healthcare software company for five years. I want to become a Director of IT at a large multinational company. What should I do?”

 

How should I know? I’m not a Director of IT. Why not ask the Director of IT at a large multinational company?

 

Take advantage of the fact that people love talking about themselves. Dinner with someone who holds the position you aspire to is a better investment than hiring a career coach who lacks your dinner partner’s real-world experience. I charted my career path by observing those ahead of me and seeking their advice. Talking to people who are where you want to be will benefit your job search and help you achieve your career aspirations.

 

By shifting your mindset, optimizing your online presence, leveraging your existing network, staying engaged on LinkedIn, and connecting with the right people, you won’t need to hire a costly career coach, and you’ll develop skills you can use throughout your career.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

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How to Start a Business?

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Market Research

You have to conduct research on the whole market and find out the gap. This gap will be your opportunity. Moreover, this research will give you an idea of how different businesses work and how they fulfill the needs of the people. Businesses work due to the demand for their products and services in the market. So, through this research, you have to collect information about the following things:

 

 

You can use surveys, questionnaires, and focus group interviews to extract information on the above factors.

 

Business Plan

Develop a complete roadmap for your business. This plan should cover all the details from the manufacturing to the sales and pricing.

 

It has a summary of the complete execution of the company, including the mission of the company, product or service of the company, competitors of the company, management, and employees of the company, as well as the location of the company. This plan should be in such a way that everyone can easily understand.

Investment For Business

If you are not self-funded, then you will need investment for your business. There are several ways to find investment, such as the following:

 

●     Venture capital

You can offer the shares of the company in exchange for shares of the company. In the beginning, you have to offer the company ownership to finance your project.

●     Crowdfunding

In this type of investment, a large number of people give funds to the startup. They are not given shares and profits from the company. However, the company provides them with gifts in the future for their finances.

●     Loans

There are many government and private companies that are offering loans for small and large companies. For this loan, you have to prepare a business plan, expense sheet, and expected profits. You can find several companies that are providing loans for businesses, such as Lendforall, Baker Tilly, West Bank Union, etc.

Structure of Business

Before starting a business, you have to select its structure. Traditionally, you will find the following structures of business:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Corporation

 

To select any structure, you must analyze and compare your business with others. You will get an idea of which structure will be the most suitable for your business.

Business Tools

Nowadays, there are several business tools available in the market. These tools have made business management easy to a great extent. However, you have to invest in these tools to compete the market. Here are some important tools for business:

 

 

Many other tools are available in the market that are used for different management purposes.

Registration of Business

You have to register your business with the federal government. Moreover, you should apply for the insurance for your business. There are many other documents, such as tax IDs from federal and state governments, licenses and permits for your business, and applying for a business bank account.

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