Published On: Fri, May 18th, 2018

Crude prices hits above $80 since late 2014

Benchmark oil contract Brent North Sea briefly surged above $80 a barrel Thursday, hitting its highest level since late 2014 and extending a recent run higher fuelled by tight supply concerns.

European stock markets meanwhile rose as the euro weakened against the dollar, but Wall Street pulled back in early New York trading.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in July jumped to $80.18 a barrel in the late European morning — the highest level since November 2014 — after a gain of more than one percent compared with Wednesday’s close.

By mid-afternoon, it had pulled back to $79.65, still 37 cents higher from Wednesday.

Global oil supplies could be hit by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, and also by falling production in crisis-hit Venezuela, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

Iran, Venezuela behind oil’s rise 

“The catalyst for the latest move appears to be more concerns about the state of the supply and demand balance and OPEC’s apparent unwillingness to do anything about it even as Iran faces fresh sanctions and Venezuelan production is pressured,” said Greg McKenna, an analyst at AxiTrader.

Iran has meanwhile said that Chinese state-owned oil company CNPC will replace Total on a major gas field project in the country should the French energy giant pull out over renewed US sanctions against Tehran.

Prior to Thursday’s oil-price rally, crude futures had already been rising strongly thanks to steady demand growth and a landmark deal by oil-producing countries, both inside and outside the OPEC cartel, to lower output.

Oil’s rise could meanwhile further push up inflation, impacting growth by quickening the pace of expected rises for interest rates.

“Clearly the recent rise in oil prices is going to pose a problem for some central banks due to the temporary impact it will have on the inflation data, especially when you consider that in the past year, Brent crude prices are up more than 50 percent,” Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda trading group, told AFP.

“The biggest test may come in countries that are already seeing the target or above target inflation like the UK.”

With markets expecting inflation to pick up the pace, including for other reasons such as improved wages growth, 10-year US bond yields have hit seven-year highs, adding to expectations of a series of US rate hikes this year.

“The ghost of the 10-year Treasury yield has returned to spook markets again, with equities failing to make much progress as attention fixates on the key global benchmark,” Chris Beauchamp, a chief market analyst at IG trading group, said Thursday.

Dollar firms 

On currency markets, the dollar benefited from bets on higher US rates, keeping it around multi-month highs against its major peers.

The greenback is holding at 2018 highs against the euro, also as horse-trading to form an Italian government fuels uncertainty in one of the eurozone’s biggest economies.

A string of disappointing data on the economic bloc is also bearing down on the single currency.

 Key figures around 1335 GMT 

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 37 cents at $79.65 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 39 cents at $71.88 per barrel

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,766.76 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.7 percent at 13,084.06

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 5,601.00

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.5 percent at 3,580.19

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 24,722.43

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 22,838.37 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 30,942.15 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,154.28 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1797 from $1.1808 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3496 from $1.3491

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.73 yen from 110.34 yen

AFP

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