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U.S. equities reversed sharply in the last hour from losses earlier in the day to end in positive territory on investors’ views that the recent sell-off has already bottomed out. Trading on Wall Street turned volatile after data showed a deterioration in U.S. consumer confidence. The Conference Board on Thursday said its consumer confidence index fell this month by 8.3 point to a reading of 136.4, the largest one-month drop since July 2015. Other data released by the Labor Department, however, showed the number of applications for jobless benefits dipping in the latest week.

 Late on Thursday, the American Petroleum Institute reported that U.S. crude inventories rose by 6.9 mil bbls, gasoline stockpiles climbed by 3.7 mil  bbls, and distillate inventories declined by 529,000 bbls. Crude stokes at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose by 1.8 mil bbls.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that rising protectionism and trade wards as well as the unpredictability of the U.S. administration have all contributed to global price volatility over the past two years. “All these uncertainties, which are now on the market: how China will behave, how India will behave… wars and unpredictability on the part of the U.S. administration….those are defining factors for price volatility,” Novak said. He told journalists that the U.S. decision to allow some countries to trade Iranian oil after putting Tehran under sanctions was one of the key reasons behind this month’s global pact to cut oil supply by 1.2 mil bpd. “Had it been hard sanctions against Iran, we wouldn’t have done it (reduce output),” he said. Novak also said that it was highly unlikely that OPEC and other oil producers would set up a permanent joint structure. The minister said Russia would cut its output between 3 and 5 million tonnes in the first half of 2019 as part of the deal and then it would be able to restore it to 556 million tonnes (11.12 mil bpd) for the whole of 2019, on par with 2018.


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