Optimism among oil traders is rising despite mixed signals from the world’s top oil consumers, largely thanks to signs that pressure is easing between Washington and Beijing and the latter’s record-breaking oil imports.
Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate have both been on a more or less steady rise for about four weeks now. During that period, OPEC+ agreed to deepen its production cuts by half a million bpd, China continued importing crude at record-breaking rates, and U.S. industrial production rebounded in November.
While not everyone was convinced that the deeper cuts will make much of a difference if not everyone in OPEC and outside it complies with their new quotas, the fact of the announcement of additional cuts must have made the right impression. That’s despite a warning from the International Energy Agency that next year the global oil market could swing into oversupply.
Meanwhile, China reported yet another record-breaking month of oil imports: the average daily for November was 11.18 million bpd, which, according to Bloomberg, was unprecedented. This was largely thanks to the ramp-up of two new refineries with a combined capacity of almost 900,000 bpd, but also because of signs of thawing between the U.S. and China.
The two have been cautiously getting closer to a preliminary deal despite setbacks. The latest from President Trump on the topic was that the parties are almost done with the so-called “phase-one” deal, and all that remains is for it to be translated. Related: Texas Driller Goes All-In On This New Oil Frontier
“I said make sure you have the right translators because you can lose a lot with bad translation. So we’re working on getting that done,” Trump said, as quoted by CNN.
While translators are working on the document, the U.S. administration is focusing on the economy. As Reuters’ John Kemp pointed out in his latest column on prices, this year the Fed cut interest rates by as much as 75 basis points to sustain growth and spur it on. The latest data in jobs and industrial production is encouraging for oil demand.
Payrolls in November shot up by 266,000, beating analyst expectations of 187,000 new additions, and industrial activity inched up by 1.1 percent last month after a fall of 0.7 percent in October. However, it bears noting here that the expectation-beating November figure was the result mainly of a pick-up in the carmaking industry after the six-week strike of UAW workers for GM.
Industrial activity data from China added to the optimism about the immediate future of oil demand. Like the U.S. November figures, those for China exceeded expectations. The combined positive effect of U.S. and China data offset bad economic news from India, where industrial activity shrunk by 3.8 percent in November. Eurozone industrial activity also fell, but that region is not among the top oil consumers, and economic updates are not high on the watch-out-for agenda of oil traders. Related: The 5 Biggest Threats To Oil & Gas In 2020
In further good news for oil bulls, as Reuters’ Kemp noted in his column, the governments of China and India have set up economic stimulus packages, whose effect on oil demand will be certainly positive. Even the German government is considering economic stimulus after a contraction earlier this year.
No wonder, then, that hedge fund managers are increasing their bullish bets on oil—to almost 320 million barrels since mid-October, according to Kemp—and that investment banks are raising their price forecasts.
Goldman Sachs said last week it now expected Brent crude to average $63 per barrel in 2020, with West Texas Intermediate seen at $58.50 per barrel. The so-called long-term anchor price for Brent was set at $55 per barrel, with WTI pegged at $50 per barrel.
Then yesterday JP Morgan followed suit, raising its Brent crude forecast to $64.50 a barrel, up from $59 per barrel, and its WTI forecast to $60 per barrel. The bank even expects the oil market to swing into a deficit of some 200,000 bpd.
The thing to bear in mind, however, is that this optimism is fragile. Any piece of bad news regarding oil consumption in any of the top consumers and importers will pressure prices. So would any bad news about supply, as the latest API weekly inventory report proved yet again yesterday.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Shane and Laura Toms of North Bay have $245,723.10 more in their bank account after winning a LOTTO MAX second prize in the September 24 draw.
Shane and Laura matched six numbers plus the bonus number to win the prize.
The parents of two, discovered their win when Shane checked their ticket using the OLG Lottery App.
“I laughed, I thought it was funny,” Shane shared, while at the OLG Prize Centre in Toronto to pick up their cheque.
“Then I called my wife while she was at work to tell her the big news!”
The couple plan on saving their winnings for their children’s future.
“It feels good. We’re excited. The future is taken care of,” they concluded.
Here's the story of the $4 bill and a Sault-based blunder – SooToday
From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:
From 1900 to around 1911, people across Canada may have been carrying around in their wallet a little piece of Sault Ste. Marie . . . in the form paper money.
While it may seem like an unusual amount today, the Dominion of Canada issued $4 bills beginning in the late 1880s; their popularity was largely sparked by the exchange rate at the time, and the ease of converting $4 Canadian into one British Pound.
And, of course, the $4 bill was just one of the many monetary denominations that are no longer being printed, including 25 cent, one dollar, and two dollar bills.
The original $4 bills pictured the Marquess of Lorne, the fourth Governor General of Canada. In 1900, the design of the bill changed to feature portraits of Lord Minto, the eighth Governor General, and his wife. During that revamp, the bill also began to highlight Canadian scenery – or at least, that was the intent.
In between the portraits of Lord and Lady Minto, an illustration showed a ship making its way through the Sault Ste. Marie locks. The image would highlight the locks as part of an important shipping route – and, since the locks had only just been completed in 1895, it was also an example of impressive, new infrastructure in the Dominion of Canada.
There was just one problem: whoever designed the bill did not check that they had the country correct. The $4 Canadian bill mistakenly featured the locks in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.
As the Globe and Mail wrote in a retrospective column about the gaffe, “Somebody’s face must have been very red at Ottawa.”
When the mistake was noticed, the issue was recalled. In 1902, the government began to issue new $4 bills – this time with a depiction of the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario locks as a ship passed through.
In 1904, $4 bills ceased being issued, but they continued to circulate for several years after that; however, by 1947, according to a Globe and Mail article, they would rarely show up in circulation anymore.
Today, the bills are a collector’s item. And, while you are unlikely to open up your wallet and see Sault Ste. Marie on your paper money anymore, copies of the bill remain – in private collections and in places like the British Museum and the Bank of Canada Museum.
Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.
Ontario premier says no to early election despite soaring poll numbers – CTV Toronto
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is rejecting suggestions that his party will call an early election to take advantage of his soaring poll numbers thanks to his government’s ongoing pandemic response.
Ford insisted several times on Friday that the next election will be held on the scheduled date of June 2, 2022 and that he has no desire to call an early vote because the Progressive Conservatives has a four-year mandate.
“We aren’t going to be calling it in the spring, we’ll be calling it the regular time,” Ford said during a news conference at Queen’s Park where his party holds a comfortable majority of seats.
Ontario’s PC party, along with the provincial Liberals and NDP have been racing to nominate candidates in Ontario’s 124 ridings – nearly two years before the writs are issued.
Sources with Ontario’s Liberals say the party feels it needs to be ready because “all signs appear to be showing an early election.”
Liberals point to the premier’s campaign-style tour of Ontario during the summer, a stepped up fundraising campaign, and fast-tracked nominations as reasons behind the speculation.
Next election about leadership
Despite ruling out an early vote, Ford says the ballot box question during next election will be about leadership and which party got the province through the pandemic.
“People will have a very clear decision. They’ll have a decision about leadership,” Ford said. “Who do they have confidence in getting the economy back up and running like we did.”
Ford boasted about the 300,000 jobs created during the first two years of him time in office – employment gains that were wiped out during the COVID-19 restrictions that saw Ontario’s unemployment rate spike to 12.3 per cent in June.
Recent polls, however, suggest that despite the economic hardship, the premier’s overall pandemic response could deliver an electoral windfall.
A recent survey by The Angus Reid Institute found 45 per cent of decided voters said they would cast a ballot for the Progressive Conservative party, up from 36 per cent in February.
The NDP were a distant second with 25 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 22 per cent and the Greens at four per cent.
The Premier’s personal approval rating now sits at 66 per cent, according to Angus Reid, up from 31 per cent in February.
Ford rose to power in 2018 with 40 per cent of the popular vote and 76 seats in the provincial legislature. The party currently has 72 seats in the legislature, after the departure of two MPPs and the eviction of two others.
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