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The Aftermath of the Qatar Ultimatum

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The ultimatum that Saudi Arabia and its allies gave to Qatar expired on Monday, and the leaders of the nations participating in the “diplomatic blockade” gathered in Cairo yesterday to discuss the answer by the Gulf state. Investors all over the world were watching carefully, as the event had the outside chance of a significant risk event, with the Irani-Saudi-Turkish power struggle being in the background of the chain of events. The crude oil and natural gas markets are in the forefront of the crisis as well, and the prices of those crucial commodities were closely following the events in the past few weeks.

Qatar Calls the Bluff?

As Qatar dismissed the demands of the Saudi alliance, the blockading nations faced a situation where they needed to show strength without triggering anything that they didn’t want in the first place. Yesterday they decided to “maintain the sanctions” but did not escalate the crisis for now, despite stating that they would take further steps in the appropriate time, and saying that Qatar’s answer lacked any substance whatsoever.

We would say that Qatar “won” this round by reading the signs well, as the superpowers verbally intervened, trying to calm tensions and avoid a regional conflict that could destabilize the energy complex and the whole Middle East. That might be the reason of this kind of pointless ultimatum that first seemed to be a “casus belli” for more drastic measures.

The Oil Price Tango of Saudi Arabia

The OPEC’s oil production cut, that was aimed to stabilize the energy segment is still in jeopardy, as Iran is one of the most crucial players in the deal, as the country is still in the ramp-up phase following the lift of the Western sanctions. On an interesting note, it was precisely Saudi-Arabia who launched a price war against the shale industry in 2016, driving crude prices down below $30 per barrel. Now the kingdom got an unexpected help from the global central banks, in the form of rising yields, as the leveraged players in the rising shale industry already started to curb their expansion as credit conditions started tightening.

What Happens Next?

Oil already staged a strong rally in the face of the risk-off shift of the last few days suggesting that investors are removing their worst case scenario bets that would be the collapse of the fragile OPEC deal. That said, we expect oil to remain rangebound in the coming months, as the supply situation is only partly determined by the OPEC, and the slightly shaky shale industry still gives a flexibilty to global production that was impossible in the previous decades. The 4-week production average of the US tells the story, as in the last couple of years the output

The 4-week production average of the US tells the story, as in the last couple of years the output remarkably followed the moves in the price of oil, while before that there was a very low correlation. That fact should cap the price of the crucial commodity and it is unlikely that we see the per barrel price go over $60 anytime soon, barring a full-blown default wave in the sector.

Who Will Rule the Middle East?

The more pressing issue for the world is the question of the precarious balance of the region that could turn upside down if oil and natural gas prices remain “lower for longer”. With the new leadership of Saudi Arabia, the strong but politically divided Turkey, and the recovering Iran all in for dominance, the Qatar crisis might be an important step towards a solution- for better or worse. But for now, the imminent threat of a major conflict seems to be low, and that could cause a sigh of relief across the globe.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 291 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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Brent Crude Oil: $100 Per Barrel Is In Sight

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Crude oil has been moving steadily higher for months, despite a recent short-term blip, and it may not be long before we are looking at triple-digit prices once again. Eighty-dollar Brent is the most recent target, reflecting the highest level the commodity has seen in years and the closest its come to 2008 record highs of $150 per barrel.

And while market forces aka Saudi Arabia may be doing what they can to control the price, there is a wildcard that could send oil futures soaring to near $100 per barrel once again, and according to a market strategist on CNBC, it’s Venezuela.

Bob Parker of Quilvest Wealth Management said on the business network that Venezuela holds the key to unlocking near-$100 oil prices once again. If Venezuela, which is mired in economic depression, were to bring oil production to a total halt, it could serve as an impetus to send crude oil futures soaring to levels not witnessed in years.

A combination of production cuts inspired by OPEC and rising demand around the world has thrust the oil price to the $80 per barrel level in May, back to 2014 levels. Surplus worries have taken some steam out of the rally, at least in the short-term, as the US has been ramping up production. But Saudi Arabia has still been calling the global shots, and they like oil in the $70-$80 range.

The Wall Street Journal

Parker believes that the oil kingpins — Saudia Arabia, other OPEC nations and Russia — have reached their goal to “clear this industry from overhang from the oil market.” It’s been on again, off again for production cues, and if they had their way, oil prices would persist at current levels.

“I think what they are concerned about is that they ideally would like to avoid a spike in the oil price, let’s say towards $100 a barrel, because they are very sensitive to the fact that a spike would then lead to a generalized global downturn,” Parker told CNBC.

Venezuela Wildcard

Energy is the heart of the Venezuelan economy, and therefore it’s the industry that’s been hit the hardest. It’s been displaced by Colombia for oil exports to the U.S., and production has been falling sharply.

Latin American crude production has been slashed by some 40% in the past three years and is currently hovering at about 1.4 million barrels per day amid Venezuela’s hyperinflation and food crisis. If Venezuelan production were to come to a complete halt, and there’s no indication that the worst is over, it could thrust crude futures back to triple-digit- territory.

It’s not just one market strategist that predicts $100 per barrel oil. RBC’s Helima Croft similarly believes that a perfect storm could send Brent up to lofty levels, with the Venezuelan economic demise the deciding factor.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 23 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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Commodities

Oil Prices Post Biggest Drop in a Year as Russia, OPEC Weigh Abandoning Output Deal

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Oil prices sold off Friday at their fastest pace in a year after major energy producers said they may soon begin lowering production limits.

Energy Ministers Weigh Easing Output Caps

A group of two-dozen producer nations are considering a gradual exit from an output deal put in place last year to rebalance an oversupplied crude market. Under the deal, Russia, OPEC and others agreed to reduce crude supplies by 1.8 million barrels per day.

Russia was especially vocal about lowering and eventually abandoning output quotas in support of a balanced market after Moscow’s energy minister met with his Saudi counterpart in St. Petersburg.

“The moment is coming when we should consider assessing ways to exit the deal very seriously and gradually ease quotas on output cuts,” Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said, according to Reuters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said Friday his country does not support runaway oil prices, a sign that the world’s largest energy producer was prepared to ramp up production soon.

“We’re not interested in an endless rise in the price of energy and oil,” Putin said in St. Petersburg on Friday. “I would say we’re perfectly happy with $60 a barrel. Whatever is above that can lead to certain problems for consumers, which also isn’t good for producers.”

The Russian leader echoed previous comments made by Iranian officials, who indicated that a range of $60 to $65 a barrel was fair market value for crude. The Saudis, meanwhile, were said to be targeting prices above $80 a barrel.

OPEC and its allies are planning to gather in their Vienna headquarters June 22 to discuss a new output deal. Output will most likely increase, though the details of the production rise remain unclear.

Oil Prices Sink

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures plunged 4.2% to $67.70 a barrel, the biggest fall since June 2017. The contract settled at worst level in over three weeks.

Brent crude fell 3.1% to $76.39 a barrel, its lowest since May 8. The international futures benchmark traded above $80 a barrel last week for the first time since 2014.

Energy shares were dragged along for the ride, as the sector fell 2.6%. Dow industrials Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp fell 3.5% and 1.9%, respectively.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 497 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Brent Crude Jumps to $80 a Barrel Amid Geopolitical Fears

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Fears over supply disruptions in the Middle East drove crude prices higher on Thursday, with Brent futures reaching their best levels since November 2014.

Oil Prices Trek Higher

Global energy markets traded sharply higher on Thursday, with Brent crude topping $80 a barrel for the first time in three-and-a-half years. The international futures benchmark, which trades on London’s ICE Futures Exchange, reached a high of $80.33 a barrel for its July contract. That represents a gain of 1.3% from the previous close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures also gained and reached a peak of $70.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices were up roughly 0.8% from the previous day.

Oil prices have gained between 8% and 12% over the past month. As a result, energy stocks have surged more than 8% over the same period, far outpacing the broader equity markets in terms of gains.

Energy companies have also been responsible for the bulk of Wall Street’s earnings growth for the most recent quarter. According to FactSet, a financial research firm, energy, materials and technology were the biggest contributors to Q1 earnings and revenue growth.

Geopolitics Sway Commodities

Investors are becoming convinced that President Trump’s exit from the Iran nuclear accord will disrupt oil exports from the Persian Gulf. America’s exit from the agreement restores wide-ranging sanctions on the Islamic Republic, including limits on how much crude it can ship beyond its borders. Combined with record compliance from OPEC and its allies on limiting crude supplies, oil prices look poised to continue higher.

However, not everyone is convinced that sanctioning Iran will prop up crude prices long-term, largely because China and Europe still support the nuclear accord. Some analysts believe that Iran sanctions will wipe 1 million crude barrels per day from the global market. Others say the impact will limited to fewer than 500,000 barrels per day.

Iran is a member of the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), but has expressed diverging views about how oil should be priced. The Iranians are comfortable with $65 a barrel oil while Saudi Arabia is targeting a price point of $80 and beyond.

By reapplying sanctions on Iran, the Trump administration has cost companies like Boeing and Airbus tens of billions of dollars in contracts. France’s Total announced Wednesday it may scrap a multi-billion-dollar gas project in Iran if it could not circumnavigate U.S. sanctions.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 497 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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