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Oil Price Crash Sparks A Wave Of Banking Mergers In The Middle East

Oil Price Crash Sparks A Wave Of Banking Mergers In The Middle East

The historic oil price crash and Covid-19 pandemic have left major producers of the commodity in a deep economic crisis. Dramatic production cuts by OPEC+ has exacerbated the situation by further lowering export inflows for economies that depend heavily on oil dollars. Some, such as the UAE, have tried to put on a brave face by touting the strength of their banking systems and claiming they can withstand shocks of any scale.

Unfortunately, a growing body of evidence suggests pretty much the opposite: A wave of banking mergers is sweeping through the Middle East as the sector scrambles to stay afloat amid slowing economic growth.

About $440 billion worth of deals are already on the table. That’s a remarkable feat for a region that has the lowest banking penetration anywhere on the globe. 

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia–guilty of initiating the oil price war with Russia that triggered the oil price crash–is well represented in the growing trend.

Source: World Bank

Giant mergers

Source: Bloomberg

#1 Saudi Arabia The National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia’s largest lender by assets, has lined up a $15.6 billion takeover bid for rival Samba Financial Group. The $15.6B tab represents a nearly 30% premium to Samba’s valuation before the deal was announced, while the potential deal will create a $210 billion (assets) behemoth.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, the Kingdom’s central bank, has unveiled nearly $27 billion in stimulus packages to support its flagging banking system suffering from years of weak private sector loan growth. The Kingdom’s oil and gas sector accounts for 50% of GDP and 70% of export earnings. The IMF has estimated Saudi Arabia’s fiscal breakeven sits at $76.1 per barrel, a far cry from the current ~$40/bbl.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Futures, Oil Plunge As Crude Contagion Spreads To All Markets

Futures, Oil Plunge As Crude Contagion Spreads To All Markets

The experts said ignore the May WTI meltdown – it is irrelevant and is only confined to the deliverable contract. The experts were wrong.

Not only was the Monday May WTI meltdown not contained,  with the contract still trading negative after closing down nearly $40 on Monday in their first ever sub-zero dive as traders realized Cushing was on the out of storage space, but overnight it spread to the more-active June contract which crashed almost 50% plunging to the low teens, before stabilizing down 23.5%, to $15.64 a barrel. June trading volumes were roughly 80 times those of the expiring May contract.

…. with Brent also dragged in, dropping as low as $18/barrel and last trading down $5.25, or 21% at $20.32 per barrel…

… as the world’s oil benchmark dropped below $20. And as the oil meltdown accelerated, it inflicted huge losses sweeping through markets as the world runs out of places to store unwanted crude and grapples with negative pricing.

The plunge in oil is taking place even as President Trump said late on Monday that he is looking at putting as much as 75mln bbls into SPR which would top it out and that the oil price drop is short-term in which a lot of people got caught out and was largely a financial squeeze. Furthermore, Trump suggested oil producers need to do more by the market in terms of output cuts and that the administration will either ask permission from Congress to buy oil or we will store it, while he also responded we will look at it when questioned about stopping shipments of oil from Saudi Arabia.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Historic Oil Crash Sends Canadian Oil Prices Negative

Historic Oil Crash Sends Canadian Oil Prices Negative

When Goldman’s crude oil analysts turned apocalyptic last month, writing that “This Is The Largest Economic Shock Of Our Lifetimes“, they echoed something we said previously namely that the record surge in excess oil output amounting to a mindblowing 20 million barrels daily or roughly 20% of the daily market…

… the result of the historic crash in oil demand (estimated by Trafigura at 36mmb/d) which is so massive it steamrolled over last week’s OPEC+ 9.7mmb/d production cut, could send the price of landlocked crude oil negative: “this shock is extremely negative for oil prices and is sending landlocked crude prices into negative territory.”

We didn’t have long to wait, because while oil prices for virtually all grades have now collapsed below cash costs…

… today’s historic plunge in WTI – the biggest on record – which sent the price of the front-month future freefalling 40% to just $10/barrel…

… has resulted in selected Canadian crude oil prices now officially turning negative with Canada’s Edmonton C5 Condensate deep in the red…

… while the Edmonton Mixed Sweet Blend dipped briefly negative for the first time ever before fractionally rebounding in the green.

For Oil and Its Dependents, It’s Code Blue

For Oil and Its Dependents, It’s Code Blue

The great price collapse of 2020 will topple companies and transform states.

Oil drop
Failing vital signs: Economists predict a depression after the pandemic. That will mean less energy spending, which translates into ongoing low energy prices that already no longer cover the cost of extraction in many places. Illustration for The Tyee by Christopher Cheung. Oil rig image: Creative Commons.

If oil has been laid low by the coronavirus, then the nations whose economies most depend on it might soon be on ventilators. By any prognosis the great oil price collapse of 2020 has pushed the world’s most volatile commodity into Code Blue.

No one expects oil, its peddlers or consumers to emerge wealthier or wiser from this crisis. Oil company bankruptcies, already happening before the pandemic, will escalate. And more petro states will begin to stumble, like Venezuela, down the rabbit hole of collapse. 

The pandemic, combined with suicidal overproduction and a brief price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, has reduced oil consumption and revenues on a scale that is mindboggling. 

Prior to the pandemic, the world gulped about 100 million barrels a day, filling the atmosphere with destabilizing carbon. Today it sips somewhere between 65 million and 80 million barrels.

At least 20 to 30 per cent of global demand has vanished and nearly two dozen petro-producing countries including Canada have agreed to withhold nearly 10 million barrels from the market. Few expect this agreement will stop the price bleeding.

In fact, the price of Western Canadian Select or diluted bitumen remains below five dollars a barrel — cheaper than hand sanitizer. That’s a drop of more than 80 per cent compared to the month before.

Because the spending of oil fertilizes economic growth and expands national GDPs, most of the world’s economists now predict a long depression after the pandemic.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What The Oil Price Collapse Says About The Economy

What The Oil Price Collapse Says About The Economy

NYSE trading floor

In Tuesday’s technical update, I discussed the breakdown in the major markets both internationally as well as domestically. Of note, was the massive bear market in China which is currently down nearly 50 percent from its peak.

(Click to enlarge)

What is important about China, besides being a major trading partner of the U.S., is that their economy has been a massive debt-driven experiment from building massive infrastructure projects that no one uses; to entire cities that no one lives in. However, the credit-driven impulse has maintained the illusion of economic growth over the last several years as China remained a major consumer of commodities. Yet despite the Government headlines of economic prosperity, the markets have been signaling a very different story.

In the U.S., the story is much the same. Near-term economic growth has been driven by artificial stimulus, government spending, and fiscal policy which provides an illusion of prosperity. For example, the chart below shows raw corporate profits (NIPA) both before, and after, tax.

(Click to enlarge)

Importantly, note that corporate profits, pre-tax, are at the same level as in 2012. In other words, corporate profits have not grown over the last 6-years, yet it was the decline in the effective tax rate which pushed after-tax corporate profits to a record in the second quarter. Since consumption makes up roughly 70 percent of the economy, then corporate profits pre-tax profits should be growing if the economy was indeed growing substantially above 2 percent.

Corporate profitability is a lagging indicator of the economy as it is reported “after the fact.” As discussed previously, given that economic data in particular is subject to heavy backward revisions, the stock market tends to be a strong leading indicator of recessionary downturns.

Prior to 1980, the NBER did not officially date recession starting and ending points, but the market turned lower prior to previous recessions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will The Coming Big Oil Price Drop Cause The Next Stock Market Crash?

Will The Coming Big Oil Price Drop Cause The Next Stock Market Crash?

The oil market price is setting up for one heck of a fall.  Now, could this large oil correction cause the next stock market crash?  Time will tell.  However, the indicators in the oil market are showing the largest net commercial short positions in history.  The current net commercial short positions in the oil market are even higher by 174,000 contracts than the level when the oil price fell from $105 in mid-2014 to a low of $30 at the beginning of 2016.

Furthermore, there was a previous trend in the 1980’s that suggests we are setting up for a MAJOR stock market crash.  I discuss the details of the current record net commercial short positions and the similar setup that took place during the 1980’s in my newest video, Will The Coming Big Oil Price Drop Cause The Next Stock Market Crash?

Here is one of the charts discussed in the video presentation above:

As we can see in this COT Report (Commitment Of Traders), the commercial net short positions jumped from 648,000 to 674,000 in the past week.  However, this chart only shows the change traders’ positions over one year.  To see how large the present commercial net short positions, please check out the short 12-minute video.

I believe the oil and stock markets are setting up for one large correction or even a market crash.  Thus, as the stock markets crack, we will likely see a huge move by retail investors into Gold ETF’s as well as precious metals investors tremendously increase their demand for physical gold and silver investment.

 

What Will Drive The Next Oil Price Crash?

What Will Drive The Next Oil Price Crash?

Oil tanker

As we roll into 2018, analysts and investors are more optimistic that the oil market will further tighten next year and support higher oil prices, but rising U.S. shale production will likely cap any significant price gains.

On the demand side, expectations are that global economic growth will support solid oil demand growth. On the supply side, Venezuela’s dire situation, possible new sanctions on Iran, and increased tension in the Middle East mostly with the Saudi-Iran issues and the Iraq-Kurdistan standoff may take more barrels off the market than OPEC and friends plan, and send geopolitical jitters through the oil market.

However, according to energy policy expert Michael Lynch, there remain three potential events in the markets that could send oil prices tumbling. These include a large correction in the U.S. stock market that could spread to a sell-off in commodities; one of the OPEC members or Russia breaking away from the unusually strong compliance to the cuts we have seen so far; and U.S. oil production rising so much as to make OPEC see it as a threat to its long-term oil market share.

In markets, there are already some signs that we may be seeing some bubbles, Bitcoin being the most likely candidate, according to Lynch. In addition, the price to earnings ratio of the S&P 500 index is now over 25, well above the mean historical average of just over 15.

Last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said, referring to the high valuation in some asset classes, “the fact that those valuations are high doesn’t mean that they are necessarily overvalued.” According to VTB Capital’s Global Macro Strategist Neil MacKinnon, the ultra-low volatility in U.S. equities this year is “very vulnerable” to shocks, and current stability could actually bring future instability.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US to Import Inflation from Japan, China, South Korea

US to Import Inflation from Japan, China, South Korea

Even from Japan – whose export producer prices are soaring.

The oil price collapse that started in 2014 pushed down input costs that companies – the “producers” – faced. And producer price indices, which measure inflation further up the pipeline, plunged. But this is over. And the biggest export powerhouses in Asia that have ballooning trade surpluses with the US, show how.

The Producer Price Index in Japan – the “Corporate Goods Price Index,” as it’s called there – jumped 3.4% in October compared to a year ago, after already climbing an upwardly revised 3.1% in September, the Bank of Japan reported on November 13. It was the tenth month in a row of year-over-year gains and the highest annual rate since September 2014, by which time the collapsing energy prices were mopping up any inflationary pressures (chart via Trading Economics):

On a monthly basis, the index rose 0.3% from September. But excluding “extra charges for summer electricity,” the index jumped 0.6% month-over-month.

The biggest movers: Nonferrous metals prices soared 22.4% year-over-year, petroleum and coal products 15.8%, iron and steel 9.7%, and chemicals and related products 3.6%.

On the negative side of the ledger there wasn’t much activity: prices for electrical machinery and equipment edged down -1.1%, for business oriented machinery -0.4%, and production machinery -0.3%.

Export prices in October jumped 9.7% year-over-year in yen terms and 3.8% in contract-currency terms. Export prices of Metals and related products soared 25.8% in yen terms and 17.7% in contract-currency terms. Chemical and related produces soared 16.3% and 11.8% respectively. Other primary products and manufactured goods prices jumped 10.3% and 4.2%. All three of them soared in double-digit percentages just from September!

Japan has exported $101 billion in goods to the US so far this year.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turns out, OPEC Isn’t Dead Yet

Turns out, OPEC Isn’t Dead Yet

In War for Market Share with US shale oil.

Mayhem has crisscrossed the global oil markets since 2014: Huge losses for Big Oil, including teetering, over-indebted, state-owned giants like Mexico’s Pemex and Brazil’s Petrobras; bankruptcies among some of the smaller players; cuts in production in the US, Canada, and China where production plunged 7.3% in May from a year ago, the biggest decline since February 2001; hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs across the globe; deep trouble in Brazil, chaos in Venezuela….

Record levels of crude oil stocks have become a global phenomenon. In the US, crude oil stocks are at 532 million barrels, a record for this time of the year in EIA’s data series going back 80 years. Even driving season has barely made a dent so far; stocks remain 63.6 million barrels above the mega-record levels a year ago. Gasoline and distillate stocks are 19.2 million and 18.6 million barrels above their levels a year ago.

Oil tankers full of crude are lined up outside the port of Singapore and others, some waiting to unload cargo, others being used for crude oil storage at sea. Across OPEC, storage levels of petroleum products rose to 3,046 million barrels in April, or 13% above the five-year average.

The world is awash in oil.

In the process, OPEC has been declared dead or dying because it was unable to agree on anything, refused to cut production, and brushed off calls to do something, for crying out loud, about the collapsed prices — which, despite the mega-rally, remain down over 50% from where they’d been before the oil bust began.

But there was one thing OPEC was able to accomplish by not agreeing to buckle under pressure and cut production: it increased its market share.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Saudi Arabia’s Oil-Bust Cash-Flow Debacle Begins to Bite

Saudi Arabia’s Oil-Bust Cash-Flow Debacle Begins to Bite

Hangover of oil dependence has only just begun.

It was supposed to be the biggest, most ambitious, most lucrative infrastructure project Spain’s construction industry had ever undertaken on the Arabian Peninsula. Launched three years ago, the high-speed rail link project between Medina and Mecca was a dream come true worth some €6.7 billion, the perfect payoff of decades of patient lobbying of the House of Saud by Spain’s former King Juan Carlos I. But now it’s a rotting financial albatross around the necks of 12 large Spanish companies.

Even from the beginning, things were not easy. Within a year and a half, the project was suffering significant delays. And two months ago, the consortium asked the Saudi government for more funds — “an absolute minimum of €1.4 billion” — to cover the Saudi Railways Organization’s “unforeseeable demands,” such as, amazingly, keeping desert sand off the tracks.

None of the consortium partners want to take responsibility — or the attendant financial hit — for keeping sand off the tracks. And the House of Saud, already hemorrhaging money due to the oil bust, is in no position to pay Spanish companies extra funds for it.

Now, news is leaking that the Saudi Railway Organization stopped paying advances on the consortium’s work over six months ago. According to the Spanish financial daily Expansión, the consortium could be owed hundreds of millions of euros in late payments. Although the reasons for non-payment are as yet unconfirmed, sources in Spain are blaming it on the House of Saud’s acute cash-flow problems.

Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy is in a bit of a pickle. For its budget to break even, the country needs an oil price of $104 a barrel, claims the Institute of International Finance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why no economic boost from lower oil prices?

Why no economic boost from lower oil prices?

There is no question that lower oil prices have been a big windfall for consumers. Americans today are spending $180 B less each year on energy goods and services than we were in July of 2014, which corresponds to about 1% of GDP. A year and a half ago, energy expenses constituted 5.4% of total consumer spending. Today that share is down to 3.7%.

Consumer purchases of energy goods and services as a percentage of total consumption spending, monthly 1959:M1 to 2016:M2.  Blue horizontal line corresponds to an energy expenditure share of 6%.

Consumer purchases of energy goods and services as a percentage of total consumption spending, monthly 1959:M1 to 2016:M2. Blue horizontal line corresponds to an energy expenditure share of 6%.

But we’re not seeing much evidence that consumers are spending those gains on other goods or services. I’ve often used a summary of the historical response of overall consumption spending to energy prices that was developed by Paul Edelstein and Lutz Kilian. I re-estimated their equations using data from 1970:M7 through 2014:M7 and used the model to describe consumption spending since then. The black line in the graph below shows the actual level of real consumption spending for the period September 2013 through February of 2016, plotted as a percent of 2014:M7 values. The blue line shows the forecast of their model if we assumed no change in energy prices since then, while the green line indicates the prediction of the model conditional on the big drop in energy prices that we now know began in July of 2014.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Angola Could Be OPEC’s First Member To Fall

Angola Could Be OPEC’s First Member To Fall

OPEC-member Angola, which is dependent on oil for 95 percent of its export revenues, is facing an urgent cash flow problem, and the only way out is external help as the dominoes start to fall.

Angola has sought financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to weather the crisis engulfing the African nation due to low oil prices, while President José Eduardo dos Santos has gone as far as to dip into the country’s sovereign wealth fund just to pay civil servant salaries.

The Finance ministry said in a statement: “The government of Angola is aware that the high reliance on the oil sector represents a vulnerability to the public finances and the economy more broadly. The government will work with the IMF to design and implement policies and structural reforms aimed at improving macroeconomic and financial stability, including through fiscal discipline.”

Along with the drop in oil prices, it doesn’t help that Angola’s economy has largely become a kleptocracy—a government run by those gunning for status and personal gain at the expense of the nation.

For those who may argue with this terminology, we can look at the Angolan President’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos, who is worth $3.3 billion and is the richest woman in Africa, according to Forbes. Meanwhile, 68 percent of the Angolan population lives below the poverty line.

President José Eduardo dos Santos has run the country since 1979, but until now, he has avoided seeking aid from the IMF, most likely because the IMF has been known to delve into the state’s finances to locate irregularities—irregularities such as the President’s daughter’s net worth being over 6,000 times Angola’s GNI.

Only a few believe that the actions of the IMF may help bring an end to the opaqueness of the current rule.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Low Oil Prices Haven’t Helped The Economy

Why Low Oil Prices Haven’t Helped The Economy

Many analysts had anticipated that a dramatic drop in oil prices such as we’ve seen since the summer of 2014 could provide a big stimulus to the economy of a net oil importer like the United States. That doesn’t seem to be what we’ve observed in the data.

There is no question that lower oil prices have been a big windfall for consumers. Americans today are spending $180 B less each year on energy goods and services than we were in July of 2014, which corresponds to about 1 percent of GDP. A year and a half ago, energy expenses constituted 5.4 percent of total consumer spending. Today that share is down to 3.7 percent.

(Click to enlarge)

Consumer purchases of energy goods and services as a percentage of total consumption spending, monthly 1959:M1 to 2016:M2. Blue horizontal line corresponds to an energy expenditure share of 6 percent.

Related: Natural Gas Trading Strategies 

But we’re not seeing much evidence that consumers are spending those gains on other goods or services. I’ve often used a summary of the historical response of overall consumption spending to energy prices that was developed by Paul Edelstein and Lutz Kilian. I re-estimated their equations using data from 1970:M7 through 2014:M7 and used the model to describe consumption spending since then. The black line in the graph below shows the actual level of real consumption spending for the period September 2013 through February of 2016, plotted as a percent of 2014:M7 values. The blue line shows the forecast of their model if we assumed no change in energy prices since then, while the green line indicates the prediction of the model conditional on the big drop in energy prices that we now know began in July of 2014.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Debt Spiral Grips Both, Pemex and Mexico

Debt Spiral Grips Both, Pemex and Mexico

It was just a matter of time before Pemex, Mexico’s chronically indebted state-owned oil giant, began dragging down the national economy it had almost single handedly sustained for over 75 years.

The company has been bleeding losses for 13 straight quarters. As of December 31, it had $114.3 billion in assets and $180.6 billion in liabilities, a good chunk of it denominated in dollars, leaving a gaping hole of $66.3 billion (negative equity), after having been strip-mined over the decades by its owner, the government. And given these losses and the equity hole, new credit is becoming harder to come by.

Now it seems that Mexico’s worst nightmare is beginning to come true, thanks in no small part to Moody’s Investors Service. The credit rating agency last week downgraded Pemex’s credit rating from Baa1 to Baa3. In November Pemex had a perfectly respectable credit rating of Aa3; now, just six months later, it’s perilously perched just one notch above junk.

“Moody’s believes that Pemex’s credit metrics will worsen as oil prices remain low, production continues to drop, taxes remain high, and the company must adjust down capital spending to meet its budgetary targets,” the report said.

That was for Pemex. Now Moody’s also changed the outlook for Mexico’s sovereign rating from stable to negative.

This, coupled with the mounting risk of a credit downgrade, heaps further pressure on a government already struggling to shore up its balance sheet. Hardly helping matters is the fact that oil prices, a key source of government revenues, continue to languish at low levels, while the prospect of a massive bailout of Pemex looms ever larger. As if that were not enough, Mexico’s manufacturing industry is beginning to feel a very sharp pinch from weakening U.S. consumer demand.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Production Vital Statistics March 2016

Oil Production Vital Statistics March 2016

Since the possible double bottom at $26 formed on February 11th the oil price has staged a rally to $40 (WTI). Traders lucky enough to buy at $26 and sell at $40 have pocketed a tidy 54% profit. Very few will have been this lucky. The trade was stimulated by news that Saudi Arabia and Russia had agreed to not increase production this year which is hollow news since neither country could significantly increase production no matter how hard they tried. Profit taking has now driven WTI back towards $37 as of 1 April.

What next? There is precious little sign of significant production falls anywhere. US and international rig counts continue to plunge. And there is little sign of global demand recovering as OECD economies buckle under the weight of misguided energy policy and debt. There is a risk of the plunge in oil price resuming.

The following totals compare Feb 2016 with Jan 2016:

  • World Total Liquids down 180,000 bpd
  • USA down 60,000 bpd
  • North America down 100,000 bpd (includes USA)
  • OPEC up 100,000 bpd
  • Saudi Arabia up 20,000 bpd
  • Iran up 220,000 bpd
  • Russia + FSU down 10,000 bpd
  • Europe up 220,000 bpd (YOY)
  • Asia up 60,000 bpd

This article first appeared on Energy Matters.

EIA oil price and Baker Hughes rig count charts are updated to the end of March 2016, the remaining oil production charts are updated to February 2015 using the IEA OMR data.

Figure 1 WTI tested the $26.68 low set on Jan 20 by returning to $26.19 on Feb 11. Since then a rally to $40 has been staged and the price has moved above the near term downwards trend line. Charts have limited value in prediction and must be used in conjunction with fundamentals. For now I don’t believe this chart is providing clear direction. Fundamentals remain chronically weak and the next chart points to an on-going plunge in price. But only time will tell.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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