By Adedapo Adesanya
The price of Brent crude oil reached $52 per barrel for the first time since February on Friday as efforts to pass another virus relief package in the United States added to optimism that the vaccine’s rollout will provide a long-awaited boost to demand.
Yesterday, the price of the international crude benchmark improved by 76 cents or 1.48 per cent to sell at $52.26 per barrel while the US futures, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, made a 1.53 per cent or 75 cents gain to trade at $49.10 per barrel.
Talks in the US for relief package have made some headway, with the Senate Majority Leader, Mr Mitch McConnell, saying he’s even more optimistic now that an agreement was near.
Also, the recent progress in rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine has buoyed the outlook for consumption, outweighing the various bearish news hitting the market.
The US launched its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 this week and this buoyed hopes that pandemic restrictions could end soon and lift demand at the world’s largest oil consumer.
However, investors are still keeping eyes on happenings in Europe as countries on the continent have continued to lock down major cities to curb the spread of COVID-19, thereby reducing fuel demand.
Germany, the fourth-largest economy in the world, plans to impose stricter lockdowns from next Wednesday to battle the virus.
The Italian government announced new lockdown over Christmas. Bars, restaurants and non-essential shops are to close nationwide from December 24 to 27 and December 31 through January 3, 2021.
Austria will go into lockdown for the third time after Christmas, the government confirmed, just 11 days after the country’s second lockdown ended.
In the United Kingdom, Turkey, France, Sweden, cases are also rising with governments considering yet another stricter restrictive methods.
The market has to contend with Libya’s crude oil production which continues to increase as one of its companies has nearly doubled its output to 100,000 barrels per day compared to production levels before the blockade of Libyan oil ports and oilfields in January.
The faster-than-expected increase in Libyan oil production, after an eight-month-long blockade, is giving the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies another issue to discuss at their monthly meetings, on top of the outlook for oil demand early next year.
OPEC is set to lift production by 500,000 barrels per day next year but expects global oil demand to fall by 9.77 million barrels per day this year to 89.99 million barrels per day while expectations for 2021 was put at 95.89 million barrels per day
Investors Gain N1.09bn as NASD Share Price Rises 9.1%
By Adedapo Adesanya
The unlisted securities market closed the last trading session of the week on a positive note after it appreciated by 0.18 per cent on the back of growth in the share price of NASD Plc.
Business Post reports that the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the bulls’ territory on Friday after it closed flat on Thursday.
NASD Plc was the major driver of the return of the bourse to the green region as its value went up during the session by N2.45 or 9.1 per cent to close at N26.99 per unit in contrast to N24.54 per unit it closed at the previous session.
As a result of this, the NASD unlisted security index (NSI) moved up by 1.32 points to 745.44 points from 744.12 points, while the market capitalisation gained N1.09 billion to wrap the day at N615.86 billion in contrast to the previous day’s N614.77 billion.
On the activity chart, there was an improvement as the trading volume surged by 34,985.6 per cent because of the 2.3 million units of shares exchanged by market participants compared with the 6,688 units transacted at the previous session.
In the same vein, the trading value rose by 17,680.6 per cent to N63.4 million from the previous day’s N356,563.60, while the number of deals witnessed a 100 per cent rise as investors carried out 12 deals compared to the six deals executed at the previous session.
At the close of trades, Food Concepts Plc was the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 11.4 billion units of its shares worth N14.4 billion, Lighthouse Financial Service Plc followed with 1.1 billion units valued at N546.2 million, while Geo Fluids Plc was in third place with 1.0 billion units worth N700.1 million.
Food Concepts Plc was also the most traded stock by value on a year-to-date basis with 11.4 billion units worth N14.4 billion, trailed by Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc with 456.4 million units valued at N9.2 billion, VFD Group Plc with 10.4 million units valued at N3.5 billion.
Naira Trades N414.73/$1 as Cryptos Bleed Heavily
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Naira appreciated against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange (forex) market by 0.02 per cent or 7 kobo on Friday, December 4.
Data showed that the local currency was sold for N414.73/$1 at the investors’ window yesterday compared with the N414.80/$1 it traded on Thursday.
At the final trading session of the week, the turnover was $103.01 million as against $139.67 million achieved at the preceding session, indicating a $36.66 million or 26.62 per cent decline.
Also, the exchange rate of the Naira to the United States currency recorded a movement on Friday, though downward as the Nigerian currency depreciated by 4 kobo as it closed at N411.74/$1 versus the preceding day’s N411.70/$1.
The local currency, however, appreciated by N2.17 against the British Pound Sterling to settle at N546.26/£1 compared to N548.43/£1 it traded at the previous trading session and 57 kobo against the Euro to trade at N465.68/€1 compared to the preceding day’s N466.25/€1.
At the cryptocurrency market, investors counted a heavy loss as the new variant of the coronavirus called Omicron and hawkish comments by the US Federal Reserve that it could raise interest rates have raised serious concerns, causing cryptos to bleed heavily.
The heaviest loss was suffered by Dash (DASH), which plunged by 35.3 per cent to sell for N66,595.85. Ripple (XRP) depreciated 30.6 per cent to trade at N381.85, while Litecoin (LTC) sold for N66,595.85 after declining by 24.1 per cent.
Dogecoin (DOGE) went down by 22.7 per cent to sell at N90.29, Cardano (ADA) depreciated by 20.8 per cent to N652.82, Bitcoin (BTC) depleted by 16.9 per cent to quote at N26,800,504.20, Ethereum (ETH) equally saw a 16.9 per cent depreciation to trade at N2,100,100.39, Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a 12.9 per cent depreciation to trade at N218,577.24, Tron (TRX) went down by 12.7 per cent to trade at N48.00, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) recorded a 0.1 per cent marginal loss to sell for N554.76.
Crude Mixed as Market Remains Unsettled by Omicron Jitters
By Adedapo Adesanya
Crude prices closed mixed on Friday, December 3 after erasing earlier big gains on growing worries that rising coronavirus cases and a new variant could reduce global oil demand.
Brent crude gained 21 cents or 0.3 per cent to trade at $69.88 per barrel while on the other hand, the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost 24 cents or 0.36 per cent to sell at $66.26 per barrel.
Both benchmarks declined for a sixth week in a row for the first time since November 2018.
Oil prices had witnessed one of the most troubled weeks as the market reeled from the fear brought about by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus with speculations that it could spark new lockdowns and dent fuel demand.
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to vaccinate their people to fight the virus, saying travel curbs were not the answer.
Even with this, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) surprised the market on Thursday when it stuck to its plans to add 400,000 barrels per day supply in January.
However, it said it will continue to monitor the market and this could make it change course if demand suffered from measures to contain the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
The alliance said they could meet again before their next scheduled meeting on January 4.
Analysts noted that with the coronavirus cases rising, the US jobs report for November also didn’t help demand outlook even as the unemployment rate plunged to a 21-month low of 4.2 per cent, suggesting the country’s labour market was rapidly tightening.
US employment growth slowed considerably in November amid job losses at retailers and in local government education.
Meanwhile, in Vienna, diplomats attempting to restore the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers face substantial challenges that need urgent solutions, the top European envoy said Friday. Talks are set to resume next week.
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