Oil Surges after hitting One-month Low


Oil prices have recovered on Friday after falling to a one-month low a day earlier encouraging investors to purchase at economical levels, prior to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in May where manufacturers could extend the production cuts.

Growth was also supported by a drop in the dollar and indications that Russia, a non-OPEC member, was completely agreeing with the output limits decided among major producers last year by cutting 300,000 barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister was pleased about the news saying Russia’s involvement was good and that total non-OPEC compliance was 85 percent.

The US Dollar Index (DXM7) was down 0.09 percent to $98.93 on Friday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 0.9 percent to $49.43 a barrel while Brent oil futures were also 0.9 percent high to $52.31 per barrel.

Gasoline RBOB futures also edged up 0.6 percent to 1.5727 on Friday.

However, oil prices were still heading off for its second straight weekly and monthly losses for two reasons. First, is the Thursday’s crude prices fall following the restart of two main Libyan oilfields the Sharara and El Feel due to disputes of an armed group that had blocked the pipelines there.  Second, are concerns over the OPEC output cut said to have been unsuccessful to completely constrict the saturated market.

WTI crude is set for small weekly loss about 8 percent below its peak in April. Brent is already almost down around 8.5 percent from this month’s peak and is still on track for second although small week of declines.

OPEC and other manufacturers including Russia agreed at the start to cut production by almost 1.8 million barrels per day, this was only during the first half of the year. However, OPEC gave in to demands to extend the cuts in order to cover the whole 2017 so as to take care of brimming supplies in other places.

The organization stated that the output cut will be extended bumping into the reality of the restart of two Libyan oilfields and persisting expansion of US shale oil.

Meanwhile, Russia has called for its state-owned companies to pay out half of their earnings in dividends this year in an effort made by the government to drive corporations such as Gazprom, Roseneft, Aeroflot and Alrosa to block openings in the federal budget.

Shares in the state-run companies went up on Friday after the announcement.

Gas group Gazprom’s shares rose 2 percent to 136.21 in Moscow as of 12:50 GMT. The company said on Thursday that it plans to pay out 7.89 rubles ($0.14) per share in dividends less than would be approved by the 50 percent demand.

Russia’s biggest oil company and largest oil producer by output Rosneft has decided to give 35 percent of its 2016 profits in dividends.

Moscow’s index MICEX (MCX) boosted 0.3 percent to 2,019 on Friday.

Last February, Russia’s deputy economy minister Olga Dergunova said that raising dividend costs could bring as much as 110 billion rubles ($1.9 billion) of additional budget profits.

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Dollar Stable, Global Stock Markets Mixed Following Trump’s Tax Plan


Following US President Donald Trump disclosure of his tax reform plan, the dollar remained stable versus other major currencies while global stock markets encountered a drawback on Thursday.

USD Against a Basket of Currencies

Investors are also looking forward to the European Central Bank’s (ECB) announcement regarding monetary policy later in the day.

EUR/USD was down 0.02 percent from1.0905 to 1.0881and was under a five-month peak of 1.0951 hit on Wednesday.

The dollar found support subsequent to President Trump’s confirmation that his plan would reduce the tax rate for public firms and a good number of small companies to 15 percent cutting more than half of the present 35 percent corporate rate. It would also make significant changes to the individual-tax system.

However, the plan labeled as the biggest cut in history by the administration provided no specific details on how it will be paid for without raising the debit which many analysts think is easier said than done.

British Pound US Dollar (GBP/USD) rose 0.3 percent to 1.2887 on Thursday after meeting a six-month peak of 1.2915 overnight.

US Dollar Japanese Yen (USD/JPY) was also up 0.3 percent to 111.46 while the US Dollar Swiss Franc (USD/CHF) rose 0.1 percent to 0.9949.

Japan’s central bank retained its monetary policy unchanged and projected steady growth for the country’s economy.

The Australian Dollar US Dollar (AUD/USD) lost 0.1 percent from 0.7476 to 0.7460 whereas the New Zealand Dollar US Dollar (NZD/USD) fell 0.03 percent from 0.6884 to 0.6862.

As a result of President Trump’s announcement to the leaders of Canada and Mexico that he will not yet end the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) but will renegotiate it with them instead, the US Dollar Canadian Dollar (USD/CAD)dropped 0.1 percent to 1.3596 after raising to fresh a 14-month increase of 1.3648 overnight while the US Dollar Mexican Peso (USD/MXN) slipped 0.5 percent to 19.0779.

The US dollar index was up 0.1 percent to 99.01.

Global Stocks

Meanwhile, global stocks were mixed on Thursday as limited details regarding Trump’s tax reform plan discourage investors and anxiety growing for ECB’s monetary policy decision.

Keeping score, European shares fell in early trading. France’s CAC 40 (FCHI) slipped 0.2 percent to 5,274 while Germany’s DAX (GDAXI) dropped 0.07 percent to 12,464 and Britain’s FTSE 100 (FTSE) was down 0.5 percent to 7,250.

Euro Stoxx 50 (STOXX50E) also lost 0.3 percent to 3,567. Euro index was pulled back by 0.1 percent to 88.06.

US shares were mixed with Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) raising 0.08 percent to 20,991 while S&P 500 Futures was up 0.1 percent to 2,385.

Asian equities dropped from a near two-year raise on Thursday with Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) down by 0.1 percent to 19,251 at the end of its session.

China’s Shanghai Composite (SSEC) boosted 0.3 percent to 3,152 on its last session while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSI) closed with a 0.4 percent high to 24,698.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (AXJO) was up 0.1 percent to 5,921.

Following Samsung Electronics’ good news, South Korea’s KOSPI (KS11) got a 0.07 percent boost to 2,209 on Thursday.

MSCI’s AC Asia Pacific Index outside Japan increased 0.3 percent to 149.33.


Commodities were mostly down on Thursday excluding gold with a 0.1 percent gain to 1,266 while silver futures slipped0.1 percent to 17.407 and copper losing 0.1 percent to 2.598.

Benchmark US Crude oil edged down 2 percent to 48.57 a barrel while Brent also lost 2 percent to 51.32.

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Stock Markets Recover as French Vote Eases


Stocks in Asia, Europe and the US started to regain the momentum on Tuesday as tension of the market eased on the first round of voting in the French presidential election.

Global stocks

The European market is expected for a strong start with Britain’s FTSE 100 (FTSE) closing 2 percent to 7,264 on Monday and Germany’s DAX (GDAXI) with a 3 percent gain to 12,454. France’s CAC 40 is set to open 0.4 percent after closing 4.1 percent to 5,268 which is its largest one-day gain in almost five years.

Euro Stoxx 50 went up 0.1 percent to 3, 580 while the Euro US Dollar soared 0.2 percent to 1.0892.

Nasdaq 100 futures rose on Tuesday by 0.1 percent to 5,513 and Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) ended on with 1.2 percent high to 5,983 on Monday.

MSCI International World Price Index (MIWO00000PUS: MSCI) rose 0.1 percent to 1,874 on Tuesday, 07:30 AM GMT.

The US Dollar index spot shrunk 0.01 percent to 98.90. Canadian US Dollar fell 0.3 percent to 0.7378 while Dow Jones Industrial (DJI) grew 1 percent to 20,763.

Asian Stocks and Commodities

Asian stocks hit a near two-year high on Tuesday with MSCI’s largest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 percent to 147.74 on its fourth successive day of gains.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) closed its session with a 1 percent high to 19,071 while TOPIX (TOPX) also boosted 1 percent to 1,519. South Korea’s KOSPI (KS11) index also grew 1 percent to 2,196 its highest since April 2015.

The Japanese yen recovered from its 0.6 percent fall on Monday after the French vote affected investor appetite for safe-haven assets with a 0.4 percent increase to 110.29 on Tuesday.

China’s shares also rose with Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 (CSI300) going up by 0.3 percent to 3,442 and a 1 percent growth to 24,451 for Hang Seng (HSI).

Jakarta’s Stock Exchange Composite Index (JKSE) fell 0.05 percent to 5,661 while FTSE Malaysia KLCI (KLSE) climbs 0.2 percent to 1,759 on Tuesday.

Australia’s S&P/ ASX 200 (AXJO) recorded a 0.3 percent high to 5,871 on Monday and it is currently close in celebration of the Anzac Day Holiday.Australian Dollar dropped 0.5 percent to 0.7533.

Meanwhile, commodities are showing mixed performance on Tuesday with Crude Oil WTI futures a 0.08 percent high to 49.26 a barrel whereas Brent crude oil is currently steady with 52.13.

Gold prices fell 0.4 percent to 1,271 while silver futures is down 0.3 percent to 17.877 and copper rose 0.8 percent to 2.586.

French Election

Emmanuel Macron, former French Minister for economy and finance, lead the first round the French presidential election with an overall vote of24 percent followed by Marine Le Pen with 21.3 percent.

Macron and Le Pen will be battling for presidency on the second round of polls on May 7, 2017.

According to latest surveys, Macron will beat Le Pen in the second round by 64 percent over 36.

Both finalists proposed to France two different ideas of Europe and the world. Macron, being the progressive one wanted to further strengthen the euro zone while Le Pen described as the patriot, plans to leave the zone and conduct an in-out referendum on EU membership within six months of taking power.

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Unilever Reports Higher First Quarter Sales


Unilever reported strong sales on Thursday. The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company reported higher sales in the first quarter due to excellent sales in rising markets and price increases, regardless of the shortcomings in North America and Europe.

The company also publicized its quarterly dividend which rose 12 percent to €0.3585 per share and said that it is on track for primary sales growth in 2017.

Unilever’s results could heighten investor interest for the firm since its shares have remained higher since February which was also the time when a rival company Kraft Foods Inc. proposed a $143 billion takeover on Unilever but was rejected right away.

Turnover for the first quarter climbed 6.1 percent to €13.3 billion including a positive currency impact of 2.4 percent.

Underlying sales rose 2.9 percent with price up 3 percent and volume down 0.1 percent, USG was 3.4 percent excluding spreads.Underlying sales growth in emerging markets boosted 6.1 percent with price increase of 5.3 percent and volume up 0.8 percent.

Unilever said that the quarterly growth supports its long-term strategy.

Along with the consumer giant’s sales increase, its PLC stock also climbed 1.5 percent to 3,998 on Thursday.

The company also gave its forecast earlier this month, stating sales will grow 3 to 5 percent this year, with margin of at least 80 and a dividend increase of 12 percent.

Nestlé’s first quarter revenue for organic products also grew 2.3 percent compared to the 2 percent median estimate.

Nestlé’s SA (NESN) went up 0.2 percent to 75.38 on Thursday 13:14 GMT.

Both companies improved pricing strength presented early hints of recovery for the food and beverage market after a long time of decreasing demand in Europe, slowing sales in China and economic crises in Brazil and Russia.

Contributing factors to the growing tension were the increase in the prices of goods, inflation in Brazil and the decline of the pound since the UK European Union membership referendum last June 2016.

The impressive performance in Unilever’s savory was led by cooking products in developing markets supported by the leading brand Knorr acting in response to primary needs such as nutrition deficiency and growing demand for time-saving meal makers.

Hellmanns’ innovations focusing on the pureness of the ingredients brought about continuous gains in the dressings’ market share.

Dairy products are also doing well thanks to effective innovations behind premium brands such as the new Magnum Pints including the coconut and raspberry selections.

Ben & Jerry’sWich sandwich and the new pint range Topped propped up its sales by two digits.

Unilever has also extended the Solero ice cream offer of less than 50 calories and launched vegan and gluten-free variants under Cornetto.

However, markets in North America and Europe weakened in the first quarter while Latin America has seen sales growth in health and wellness section. As the population of overweight people rises, the company should also work on its success and raise buyer awareness of healthier product choices in order to support its weight management brands.

Unilever has not provided any immediate update on plans to divest its spreads unit, which consist of the Flora brand. Following the company’s refusal to Kraft’s offer in February, Unilever will deliver on its word to increase investor profits through buybacks and boost productivity goals.

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Stocks Fluctuate on Theresa May’s Early Election Call


On Wednesday, European stocks rose while Asian stocks fell following UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s declarationof having a general election on June 8, three years earlier than planned. May’s sudden decision for a snap election ahead of the Brexit negotiations added to the general sense of uncertainties.

The Stoxx Europe 600 increased 0.4 percent to 377.85 and futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to 2,344, while the International Business Machines (IBM) fell 0.6 percent to 170.05 after hours of US trading after its 20th consecutive quarterly sales decline.

Prime Minister May said that Britain needed assurance, stability and strong leadership subsequent to the 2016 EU referendum vote to leave and that is why the snap election is necessary in order to secure authorization for the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

The Prime Minister’s unexpected announcement sent the pound climbing to more than 2 percent, although it slipped on Wednesday.

Euro Index edged up by 0.02 percent to 86.72 but the British Pound shrunk 0.04 percent to 1.2837 dollars and the Euro declined as well by 0.06 percent to 1.0727 dollars.

France is now preparing for the first round of its presidential elections at the weekend, while Germany is scheduled to vote this year. Both countries may have a major indication for the future eurozone.

Asian markets were lower on Wednesday due to negative lead from Wall Street and Europe. Investors are also favoring safe-haven assets ahead of French presidential elections and with analysts saying Britain’s surprising decision to conduct a general election added to global uncertainties.

According to Yutaka Miura, the market dislikes uncertainty. Investors had already been tense over the French presidential election and now the UK general election is adding more doubt in Europe.

Asian stocks apart from Japan hit their lowest since mid-March.

The Shanghai Composite (SSEC) index fell 0.7 percent to 3,171 on Wednesday 07:10 GMT. The Shenzhen market was 0.7 percent down to 1,932 for the fourth day.The Hang Seng (HSI) index sank 0.4 percent to 23,825 and so with the Hang Seng China Enterprise (CEI) (HSCE) getting a 0.6 percent decline to 9,983.

Japan’s Topix (TOPX) was also down 0.01 percent to 1,471 whileits Nikkei 225 (N225) rose 0.07 percent to 18, 432.

Sapporo Holdings Ltd. was among the best performers on the Nikkei 225 session with a 6.2 percent increase to 3,165. Other top performers include Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd. with a 5.8 percent high to 1,825 and Toshiba Corp. climbing 5 percent to 209.2.

Huge losses were encountered by Yamato Holdings Co., Ltd. by 3.4 percent to 2,270, Nippon Yusen K.K shrinking 3.1 percent to 218.5 and West Japan Railway Co. dropping 3 percent to 7,265.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (AXJO) alsoshrunk 0.5 percent to 5,804 and South Korea’s Kospi(KS11) index edged down 0.4 percent to 2,138.

FTSE Malaysia KLCI (KLSE) declined 0.09 percent to 1,738.

Singapore shares were also looking down as its FTSE Straits Times (STI) index fell 0.3 percent to 3,126 while its MSCI sank 0.2 percent to 344.25. Keppel Corp. Limited (KPLM) and Sembcorp Industries Ltd (SCIL) both suffered a loss of 2.6 percent to 6.64 and 1.9 percent to 3.060 respectively. Both companies were among the biggest losers on the benchmark stock index.

Philippines’ PSEi Composite (PSI) too lost 0.8 percent to 7,522.

Among the best performers was Lt Group Inc. (LTG) with a 2.4 percent high to 15.780, First Gen Corp (FGEN) gaining 0.9 percent to 21.80 and Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPI) with a high of 0.7 percent to 6.540.

Major losses were from Telecommunications Company PLDT Inc. which lost as much as 3.4 percent to 1,700, JG Summit Holdings Inc. (JGS) with a 3 percent cut to 79.400 and Globe Telecom Inc. (GLO) which was down 2.4 percent to 1,990 on Wednesday.

On the other hand, gold futures declined 0.7 percent to 1,285. Price for silver also dropped 0.1 percent to 18.25 while copper futures grew 0.4 percent 2.541.

Oil prices were up on Wednesday with crude gaining a 0.06 percent to 52.44 while Brent oil futures a 0.09 percent high to 54.94.

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Eco-friendly Vehicles Lead Auto Shanghai 2017


Eco-friendly vehicles are this year’s highlight for the 17th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition (Auto Shanghai 2017). More than 1,000 manufacturers arrived at Shanghai with the intention of having the opportunity to profit from China’s budding market for electric vehicles.

With the theme of “Committed to Better Life,” the heart of the show will be on the never-ending possibility of human life resulting from new technologies, trends and products and present the latest improvements of electric cars, intelligence and networking.

Auto Shanghai 2017 will be focusing on green energy as automakers worldwide go all-out to create vehicles that rely less or not at all on fossil fuels.

The show is displaying about 1,400 cars, 159 of which are the eco-friendly vehicles, 113 to make their world premiere, 96 from Chinese companies and 63 foreign ones.

Several top carmakers have already announced their plans on producing and selling electric vehicles for the Chinese market since it is the biggest auto market as of the moment. China’s government alsohas the most firmed objectives for electric cars which is why it serves as a way to clean up smoke-filled cities and gain a lead in the growing technology industry.

Ford Motor Company says that it will introduce by next year the Mondeo Energi a plug-in hybrid sedan in China. It alsohas a plan on making electric and plug-in hybrid cars by 2025 together with its domestic joint venture partner Changan Automobile Co., Ltd.

General Motors Co. also announced on Wednesday during the exhibition its plans to manufacture and sell a Chinese version of its gasoline-electric hybrid the Chevrolet Volt and 10 Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) by 2020.

German carmaker Volkswagen (VW) AG has revealed on Auto Shanghai 2017 the ID Crozz electric crossover vehicle and it also plans to have 13 more NEVs by 2020 and sell 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2025. Audi AG showcased its latest electric vehicle at the exhibition as well, which was the e-tron Sportback concept which is expected to go through production by 2019.

Toyota announced on Tuesday that it will begin road testing its fuel cell vehicle Mirai in China by October and will release a plug-in hybrid next year.

Conversely, stock prices for Ford, VW and Audi have shown growth on Wednesday. Ford rose 0.09 percent to 11.14, VW went a 1.7 percent higher to 143.25 and Audi climbed 0.9 percent to 646.74.

Stock prices for General Motors and Toyota presented a decline of the same day. General Motors lost 0.6 percent to 33.69 while Toyota got a 0.7 cut to 105.32.

The Chinese government plans to make production quotas for automakers by 2018. Last year, the latest car sales in China recorded a two-digit increase of about 28 million units and keeping the country’s title as the world’s largest car market for eight successive years. Small car sales are also expected to rise due to the extension of a tax break that was suppose to expire last year.

Meanwhile, China’s premium car market is predicted to grow by 50 percent over the next decade. Motivated by wide-ranging development in the world’s second largest economy, increasing wealth and commercial development of private firms, China’s market will grow to around 3 million cars per year in a decade’s time.

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Stocks Mixed during Pence’s Tour


shutterstock_439289500US Vice President Mike Pence’s tour to Asia has caused a mix on both the Asian and European Stocks on Tuesday and as rising conflicts tone down on the Korean Peninsula following Pence’s departure from South Korea to head for Japan.

The dollar gave up the earnings it had made when US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin commented in support of US President Donald Trump’s opinion that a strong dollar in the shortest period was affecting exports but a strong greenback for the long term was good.

European stocks were mixed on Tuesday with Britain’s FTSE 100 (FTSE) 0.6 percent down to 7,282 while Germany’s DAX (GDAXI) climbed 0.1 percent to 12,124 and France’s CAC 40 (FCHI) fell 0.2 percent to 5,058.

MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares rose 0.4 percent to 146.92. Japan’s Nikkei 225 also went up 0.3 percent to 18, 413 and South Korea’s KOSPI (KS11) increased 0.1 percent to 2,148 as of 06:32 GMT.

Hong Kong’s Han Seng (HSI) lost 1.4 percent to 23, 920 the same goes for the Shanghai Composite (SSEC) which cut back 0.7 percent to 3,196 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 with its 0.9 percent decline to 5,836.

Vice President Mike Pence started talking to Japan on Tuesday in hopes for a chance to open doors for the US goods and draw infrastructure investment after seeking to comfort Washington’s most important ally, in spite of growing disputes over North Korea.

Pence had a working lunch with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to meeting Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso for economic conversations that the vice president hoped would create a basis for further discussion.

The Vice President arrived in Tokyo from South Korea following his visit to the heavily fortified border, which is creating a wedge between the North and South. He described the US-Japan alliance as the “cornerstone” of regional security.

Pence’s 10-day tour to Asia intends to highlight that US President Donald Trump wants to improve US trade in the region even though he has left the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.

The Vice President and South Korea’s acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn stated they would carry on with the launch to South Korea of the US Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile regardless of China’s opposition.

Chris Weston wrote in a note that it looks like the focus is now definitely on future missile tests from North Korea and whether any future assessments will actually be successful. He also added that one thinks the troubles in North Korea have more to play out.

The Korean won (KRW) boosted 0.4 percent with the dollar at 1,142 won.

The dollar index was down 0.01 percent to 100.19 and a 0.05 percent cut to 108.86 yen (JPY).

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 (CSI300) fell 0.5 percent to 3,462 and so is the Australian dollar (AUD) with a 0.6 loss to 0.7540 as of 08:38 GMT.

Commodities, both oil prices and precious metals, were also experiencing losses on Tuesday.

Oil prices were pulled back with Crude Oil WTI futures fell 0.5 percent to 52.37 a barrel and Brent also edged down 0.5 percent to 55.05 per barrel.

Gold futures declined 0.4 percent to 1.286, silver also is having a 0.7 percent reduction to 18.38 and copper went down 1.4 percent to 2.559

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