By Adedapo Adesanya
Oil prices closed in the bearish territory on Friday, falling for another session pressured by an unexpected rise in US crude and fuel inventories after investors took profits after the benchmarks touched seven-year highs earlier in the week.
Brent crude dropped 49 cents or 0.55 per cent to trade at $87.89 per barrel while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) lost 41 cents or 0.48 per cent to settle at $85.14 per barrel.
However, both crude benchmarks rose for a fifth week in a row, gaining around 2 per cent this week, showing that prices were up more than 10 per cent so far this year on concerns over tightening supplies.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the first US crude build since November in the week just as fuel inventories hit an 11-month high in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Crude inventories rose by 515,000 barrels in the week to January 14 to 413.8 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations of a 938,000-barrel drop.
Earlier in the week, both Brent and WTI rose to their highest levels since October 2014.
But the latest pullback happened due to a combination of pre-weekend profit-taking and the absence of fresh bullish catalysts.
Analysts also said they expect the current pressure on prices to be limited owing to supply concerns and rising demand.
Tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East are also heightening fears of supply disruption as top US and Russian diplomats made no major breakthrough at talks on Ukraine on Friday.
There was, however, an agreement to keep talking to try to resolve a crisis that has stoked fears of a military conflict.
Amid these, there are forecasts that prices will perform their best in recent times this year due to low spare OPEC+ capacity, low inventories and geopolitical tensions rising.
Analysts at Bank of America said they expect to see Brent at around $120 a barrel in mid-2022.
UBS expects crude oil demand to reach record highs this year and for Brent to trade in a range of $80-$90 a barrel for now.
Morgan Stanley has raised its Brent price forecast to $100 a barrel in the third quarter, up from its previous projection of $90.
Meanwhile, in the United States, energy firms cut oil rigs this week for the first time in 13 weeks.
Binance Gets Digital Asset Service Provider Licence in France
By Adedapo Adesanya
Binance, the world’s largest crypto and blockchain infrastructure provider, has been granted a Digital Asset Service Provider (DASP) registration to operate in France.
The green light was given by Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), which regulates the French financial markets, with the approval of the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR), the authority responsible for supervising the banking and insurance sectors in France, especially AML Regulations.
The landmark achievement for Binance represents its first DASP registration in the European Union and demonstrates its commitment to being a compliance-first exchange.
The registration allows Binance France SAS to operate as a DASP in France and provides regulatory protection for local users with regard to the implementation of French AML/CFT and customer identification requirements.
This came just after the platform received licenses to be a crypto service provider in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, a key milestone for the world’s largest digital-asset exchange as it set up the stage for a major push in the Middle East.
According to Binance, compliance and regulation are critical to the development and maturation of the crypto and blockchain industry.
Mr Changpeng Zhao (CZ), founder and CEO of Binance, said: “Effective regulation is essential for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency. The French DASP and AML/CFT regulations put in place stringent anti-money laundering and fit and proper requirements to meet the high standards necessary to be regulated in France.”
“We are grateful to the AMF and ACPR who both demonstrated a commitment to innovation that made it possible for Binance to navigate the entire application process. Since day one, Binance has always put its users first, and now the crypto community can have even further confidence in Binance France as a trusted DASP registered in France,” he added.
Mr David Princay, CEO of Binance France added, “The registration of Binance France as a DASP is a key milestone for crypto in Europe. In particular, the new levels of protection for AML will help grow crypto adoption in France and Europe. Greater adoption will help bring better liquidity to the market which will be welcomed by users and the community in particular.”
Following the registration, Binance will significantly expand its operations and intends to recruit more people focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure development.
We’ll Sustain High Level of Corporate Governance—Seplat
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The immediate past chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr Ambrosie Bryant Chukwueloka (ABC) Orjiako, has assured that the company will continue to sustain a high level of corporate governance.
Speaking last Thursday at the closing gong ceremony to honour him and introduce his successor, Mr Basil Omiyi, to the market, the energy expert applauded the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited for insisting on transparent and accountable corporate governance for issuers on its platform.
According to him, this has been critical to the company’s growth, assuring that this trend would be maintained in the interest of the firm’s stakeholders.
“The high level of corporate governance promoted by NGX for its listed companies was a key attribute that motivated Seplat Energy Plc to become part of the market.
“Since our acceptance into the market, Seplat Energy Plc has continued to deliver a corporate governance structure that is accountable and transparent to our investors, employees, government and all other relevant stakeholders.
“We are committed to sustaining these high levels of corporate governance through our collaboration with NGX as we implement market-leading measures towards ensuring Nigeria achieves a sustainable energy sector,” he said.
Corroborating him, Mr Omiyi, said, “NGX has played an instrumental role in Seplat Energy Plc’s growth within the domestic and international markets. Our history with the exchange dates back to 2014 when the shares of Seplat Energy Plc were listed in the market and over the years, Seplat has benefitted immensely from its collaboration with NGX.
“As we celebrate another milestone on the Trading Floor of the Exchange, we look forward to strengthening our partnership with NGX for the fulfilment of our joint goal of leveraging capital to empower sustainable initiatives that positively impact our investors, employees, and the environment.”
The chairman of NGX, Mr A.B. Mahmoud, in his address, congratulated Mr Orjiako for his exemplary leadership and outstanding performance of Seplat Energy for well over a decade, during which the company was listed on both NGX and the London Stock Exchange.
“The notable acquisition of eight oil and gas assets, expansion of the Oben and development of the ANOH gas plants under his leadership positioned the company as the largest indigenous domestic supplier of gas,” Mr Mahmoud, who was represented by a director on the bourse, Mr Kamarudeen Oladosu, he noted.
On his part, the CEO of NGX, Mr Temi Popoola, said, “The exchange is better positioned to lead government advocacy efforts for listed companies, promote technology advancement and digital innovation for the capital market, and increase retail investor participation in the capital market aimed at building a market for the future and addressing the prevailing challenge of financial inclusion.
“We welcome Seplat Energy Plc to a renewed NGX and look forward to deepening our collaboration to develop and push for disruptive, out of the box ideas that could support Nigeria’s energy transition into a net-zero economy.”
JUST IN: CBN Raises Benchmark Interest Rate to 13%
By Dipo Olowookere
For the first time in two years, the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) has been raised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to 13.0 per cent from 11.5 per cent.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the CBN, who announced this development on Tuesday in Abuja, explained that the decision to increase the benchmark interest rate was taken at the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held yesterday and today.
While addressing financial reporters this afternoon, Mr Emefiele said members of the committee were unanimous with the decision to hike the rates as it was the best thing to do after holding them for about two years.
According to the central bank chief, one of the reasons for raising the rate is to control liquidity ahead of the 2023 general elections as politicians would be expected to flood the system with cash in a bid to woo voters.
However, the other parameters were left unchanged by members at the gathering as the Asymmetric corridor remained around the MPR at +100/-700bps, the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 27.5 per cent and the Liquidity Ratio (LR) at 30.0 per cent.
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