By Investors Hub
The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a modestly lower opening on Thursday, with stocks likely to give back ground following the rally seen in the previous session.
Traders may look to cash in on yesterday?s substantial gains, which came on the heels of ?dovish? comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
Lingering uncertainty about trade between the U.S. and China may weigh on the markets ahead of this weekend?s meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump and Xi are due to hold a dinner meeting on Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, although a substantive breakthrough is seen as unlikely.
After moving moderately higher early in the session, stocks saw further upside over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. The major averages climbed firmly into positive territory, further offsetting the weakness seen last week.
The major averages ended the session at their best levels of the day. The Dow surged up 617.70 points or 2.5 percent to 25,366.43, the Nasdaq spiked 208.89 points or 3 percent to 7,291.59 and the S&P 500 soared 61.61 points or 2.3 percent to 2,743.78.
The rally on Wall Street came on the heels of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s remarks in a speech to the Economic Club of New York that were interpreted as dovish for interest rates.
Powell noted interest rates are still low by historical standards and said rates are currently “just below the broad range of estimates of the level that would be neutral for the economy.”
The latest remarks seem to conflict with comments Powell made early last month, when he described rates as a “long way from neutral.”
Powell also said the economy is close to achieving both of the Fed’s objectives of promoting maximum employment and price stability.
The Fed Chief stressed rates are not on a “preset” path and said the central bank will pay very close attention to incoming data.
“As always, our decisions on monetary policy will be designed to keep the economy on track in light of the changing outlook for jobs and inflation,” Powell said.
Ahead of Powell’s remarks, Trump attacked the Fed Chairman in an interview with the Washington Post published late Tuesday.
Trump told the Washington Post he is “not even a little bit happy” with Powell, blaming the Fed for recent stock market weakness and General Motors’ (GM) announcement of plant closures and layoffs.
“I’m doing deals, and I’m not being accommodated by the Fed,” Trump said. “They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”
“So far, I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay. Not even a little bit,” he added. “I think that the Fed is way off-base with what they’re doing.”
CME Group’s FedWatch tool currently indicates an 82.7 percent chance the Fed will raise rates by another quarter point to a range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent at its monetary policy meeting next month.
Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off a report from the Commerce Department showing a substantial decrease in new home sales in the month of November.
The Commerce Department said new home sales plummeted by 8.9 percent to an annual rate of 533,000 in October from an upwardly revised rate of 597,000 in September.
Economists had expected new home sales to rise to a rate of 575,000 from the 553,000 originally reported for the previous month.
With the steep drop, new home sales tumbled to their lowest level since hitting an annual rate of 538,000 in March of 2016.
Software stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the session, driving the Dow Jones Software Index up by 4.3 percent. The index continued to recover after hitting its lowest closing level in nearly five months last Tuesday.
Within the software sector, salesforce.com (CRM) posted a standout gain after the customer-management software developer reported better than expected fiscal third quarter results and raised its full-year revenue guidance.
Substantial strength also emerged among retail stocks, which have recently benefited from reports of strong Black Friday sales. Reflecting the strength in the retail sector, the Dow Jones Retail Index soared by 3.8 percent.
Gold stocks also turned in a particularly strong performance, resulting in a 2.9 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The strength among gold stocks came amid a notable increase by the price of the precious metal.
Biotechnology, steel, computer hardware, and transportation stocks also moved notably higher on the day amid broad based buying interest on Wall Street.
Naira Trades N566.22/£1 at Interbank, Bitcoin Gains 0.8%
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Naira appreciated by 84 kobo against the British Pound Sterling at the interbank segment of the foreign exchange (FX) market on Wednesday to close at N566.22/£1 compared with the preceding day’s N567.06/£1.
Equally, the indigenous currency edged higher by N2.73 against the Euro at the same market window to finish at N470.99/€1 in contrast to N473.72/€1 it was exchanged a day earlier.
However, against the United States Dollar, the local currency suffered a loss as it depreciated by 30 kobo to close at N415.30/$1 versus N415.00/$1 it ended on Tuesday.
It was not the same scenario with the Naira at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window as the Naira closed stronger than the greenback, appreciating by 17 kobo or 0.04 per cent to trade at N416.33/$1 compared with the previous day’s exchange rate of N416.50/$1.
This occurred amid an increase in the FX trades at the market window as the turnover went up by 12.2 per cent or $13.55 million to $124.57 million from the preceding session’s turnover of $111.02 million.
Meanwhile, at the digital currency market, the bulls took control amid a renewed investor confidence, causing seven of the 10 tokens tracked by Business Post to end in the positive territory yesterday.
The highest gainer for the session was Tron (TRX) as its value went up by 1.7 per cent to sell for N39.43, followed by Ripple (XRP) which appreciated by 1.4 per cent to N436.99, and Binance Coin (BNB), which grew by 0.9 per cent to trade at N192,540.74.
In addition, Bitcoin (BTC) gained 0.8 per cent to trade at N24,183,994.94, Dash (DASH) recorded a 0.7 per cent appreciation to sell at N74,381.31, Litecoin (LTC) added 0.7 per cent to its value to close at N80,114.51, while Ethereum (ETH) made a 0.4 per cent jump to trade at N1,802,564.40.
However, Cardano (ADA) depreciated during the session by 7.3 per cent to N805.27, Dogecoin (DOGE) retreated by 0.6 per cent to sell at N99.9, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) declined by 0.1 per cent to sell for N577.45.
Turkish Pipeline Fire Drives Crude Oil Prices Higher
By Adedapo Adesanya
For the fourth trading session, crude oil prices soared at the global market on Wednesday on the back of a fire that briefly stopped the flow of a pipeline from Iraq to Turkey.
This increased concerns about an already tight supply outlook amid worrisome geopolitical troubles in Russia and the United Arab Emirates, holding prices in the bullish territory.
Consequently, the price of the Brent crude futures rose by 93 cents or 1.06 per cent to trade at $88.44 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures jumped $1.53 or 1.8 per cent to $86.96 per barrel.
It was gathered that to address the pipeline issue yesterday, Turkey had to cut oil flows on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline after an explosion on the system, although the cause of the explosion was not announced.
The pipeline carries crude out of Iraq, the second-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), to the Turkish port of Ceyhan for export.
In recent days, supply concerns have after Yemen’s Houthi group attacked the United Arab Emirates (UAE), OPEC’s third-largest producer, while Russia, the world’s second-largest oil producer, has built up a large troop presence near Ukraine’s border, stoking fears of invasion.
The tensions raise the prospect of supply disruptions at a time when OPEC and their allies, together called OPEC+, are already having difficulty meeting their agreed target to add 400,000 barrels per day of supply each month.
On the back of these, analysts expect prices to remain high as jet fuel consumption is rising with growth in international flights, while road traffic is much higher than the same time last year.
Outages in Libya, Ecuador, and Kazakhstan, coupled with downgrades to US, Russia, and Brazil forecasts, together result in 1 million barrels per day, indicating lower supply this month against the previous forecast.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday raised its demand growth estimates by 200,000 barrels per day for both 2021 and 2022.
Demand increased by 1.1 million barrels per day to 99 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2021, defying expectations of a serious hit to consumption due to the Omicron wave, the IEA said in its Oil Market Report (OMR).
The market is tighter than expected, the agency said, but still warned that there would be a surplus in the first quarter of 2022, with “demand set for a seasonal decline, exacerbated by more teleworking and less air travel.”
US President Joe Biden explained that his administration will work to try to increase oil supplies in the world’s largest oil producer.
The administration had authorized the release of 50 million barrels of crude oil – in a mix of loans and sales – from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve last year, but it had minimal effect on the market.
Senate Pass Bill to Establish National Rice Development Council
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Senate has passed a bill seeking to establish the National Rice Development Council as part of the federal government’s effort to cut down on rice importation and improve the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.
Speaking at the presentation, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Abdullahi Adamu, said the council will support the comprehensive development of the rice sector and the organisation of rice stakeholders to enhance local production of rice in Nigeria.
He explained that the organisation will transform the activities of rice farmers, rice processors, millers, researchers, marketers and other important stakeholders across the entire rice value chain, particularly the clusters of smallholder rice farmers and small scale millers spread all over the country.
“Mr President and distinguished colleagues, with our natural comparative advantage in the area of rice production as a country, Nigeria should consider the need to put in place a National Rice Development Council and a fail-safe comprehensive national rice development roadmap that will guide us not only into a regime of self-sufficiency in production but also for export purposes, employment generation for our teaming youth and growth of our economy.
“The Nigerian rice industry exists in the abstract as there appears to be no form of coordination in the absence of a properly structured rallying point.
“Today, we have Paddy Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and many more.
“This Bill seeks to establish that rallying point and a comprehensive national operational and governance structure for a complete rice value chain process.
“Mr President and distinguished colleagues, this Bill on its own merit will improve government efforts for efficient policy and regulatory framework for the Nigerian rice industry; promote enabling business and investment environments for rice stakeholders; support the growth of the rice industry in Nigeria and in the sub-region as well as promote the sustainability of foreign exchange earnings put at about $2 billion annually for Rice related importation to the country.
“The framework created by thịs Bill will pull investment into rice production, provide the missing link between rice production and industrialization, provide employment, reduce migration from rural to urban cities and enhance socio-economic activities all over the country.
“Few countries having Rice Council include Rice Council of Tanzania, USA Rice Council, Directorate of Rice Development (India), Rice Association of Thailand, among others,” he said.
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