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Saudi Aramco share price up 4% after world’s most valuable company banks $40 billion in one quarter

The word’s most valuable company, the $2.48 trillion Saudi state oil company Saudi Aramco,…
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The word’s most valuable company, the $2.48 trillion Saudi state oil company Saudi Aramco, is a little over 4% more valuable today. Even the normally stable giant of the oil and gas industry has seen its valuation grow significantly this year on the higher energy commodity prices that have resulted from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its share price is up 31% in 2022.

Today’s 4% leap in Aramco’s market capitalisation came as the company announced an 82% increase in its quarterly net income to $39.5 billion. The figure is both ahead of analysts’ expectations for $38.5 billion and a new record for Aramco since becoming a public company in December 2019. Last year the state oil producer banked $21.7 billion over the same three months.

saudi arabian oil co

Since floating a tiny 1.5% of its equity in late 2019, the Saudi Aramco share price has shown stability at odds with the usual trend for oil and gas producers. It’s a cyclical industry with profits rising and falling with oil prices and valuations reflecting those cycles. But Aramco’s scale and the fact only a very small percentage of its total equity is listed has allowed it to even out those cycles for investors by paying a consistent dividend that changes very little.

However, the jump in energy commodity prices this year has been significant enough to influence the Saudi Aramco share price as well and the company last week surpassed Apple to again become the world’s most valuable. The company said its bumper quarterly earnings were down to a combination of “higher crude oil prices and volumes sold, and improved downstream margins”.

The company produced an average 13 million barrels of oil a day over the quarter compared to 12.3 million over the same period a year earlier. Opec, the cartel of leading oil producers Saudi Arabia is the de facto leader of, is under pressure from Western nations to relieve price pressure by increasing production but has so far resisted opening the taps significantly.

Oil prices have dropped back to around $110 a barrel recently after highs of as much as $140 after the onset of the war in Ukraine. However, they could well rise again later this year if sanctions against Russia, like a EU ban on Russian oil, are tightened. High oil prices are contributing significantly to run-away inflation levels expected to reach double figures over the next couple of months.

Aramco’s net profit for 2021 was $110 billion compared to $49 billion in 2020 when demand was supressed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It will maintain its $18.8 billion cash dividend in the second quarter, the majority of which goes to the Saudi state which owns 94% of the company.

The post Saudi Aramco share price up 4% after world’s most valuable company banks $40 billion in one quarter first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Economics

Diesel Demand Set To Drop As Economies Enter Recession: Kemp

Diesel Demand Set To Drop As Economies Enter Recession: Kemp

By John Kemp, senior energy analyst

U.S. diesel consumption is likely to decline…

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Diesel Demand Set To Drop As Economies Enter Recession: Kemp

By John Kemp, senior energy analyst

U.S. diesel consumption is likely to decline by 200,000 to 600,000 barrels per day (5%-15%) over the next year as the economy slows in response to rising interest rates.

The Federal Reserve is not deliberately trying to induce a recession to bring inflation under control, central bank chief Jerome Powell told legislators on Wednesday. But he said that was a possible and foreseeable outcome of rapid rate rises – an interesting application of the doctrine of double effect.

The central bank hopes for soft landing but feels it must risk a hard one to reduce inflation running at the fastest rate for 40 years. Distillate fuel oil, a category that includes diesel, gas oil and heating oil, are the petroleum products most sensitive to changes in the business cycle so they will be impacted most as the rate of growth slows.

Even if the central bank can engineer a mid-cycle slowdown, rather than a cycle-ending recession, consumption of distillates is very likely to decline over the next year.

Both recessions and mid-cycle slowdowns have tended to reduce consumption of distillates by between 5% and 15% compared with the previous year.

With the volume of distillates supplied to domestic customers in the United States running at a little over 4 million barrels per day, the expected decline is equivalent to between 200,000 and 600,000 bpd.

Eurozone Recession

Europe’s distillate consumption is likely to see a similar or greater fall as the region’s economy enters a recession in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact of sanctions.

Eurozone manufacturers are already on the leading edge of a recession, according to preliminary data from purchasing managers’ surveys for the first part of June.

The eurozone composite manufacturing activity index slumped to 52.0 (47th percentile for all months since 2006) in early June, down from 54.6 (65th percentile) in May and 63.4 (100th percentile) in June 2021.

Rapidly escalating prices for crude, diesel, gasoline, gas and electricity as well as food are likely to force households and businesses to reduce spending over the next few months, pushing the economy into recession.

Lower volumes of manufacturing, construction and freight transportation activity will in turn cut diesel and gas oil consumption in the region, likely by a similar amount to the United States.

Lower distillate consumption is the only way to resolve shortages caused by the rapid rebound in economic activity after pandemic lockdowns, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and sanctions imposed by the United States, the EU and their allies in response on Russia’s oil exports.

In time, reduced distillate consumption will give the global refiners a chance to replenish severely depleted inventories and take some of the heat out of diesel crack spreads and prices.

Ultimately, reduced distillate consumption will stabilize and then lower fuel prices and transportation costs, which will flow through into slower inflation later in 2022 and 2023.

But the transition to lower oil prices and slower inflation is likely to involve a painful contraction in manufacturing and construction activity and employment first.

The Fed and the other major central banks may not intend to induce a recession or a significant mid-cycle slowdown, but that is the logical effect of sharply higher interest rates and tighter financial conditions.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/25/2022 - 14:30

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Economics

The Gas Inflation Crisis Is Far From Over – Where Will Prices Finally Stop?

The Gas Inflation Crisis Is Far From Over – Where Will Prices Finally Stop?

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us

After a single…

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The Gas Inflation Crisis Is Far From Over – Where Will Prices Finally Stop?

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us

After a single Federal Reserve rate hike of 75bps I am noticing a trend among mainstream economists whipping out their crystal balls and predicting an almost immediate reversion to deflationary conditions. In their view, a recession will “balance everything out.” For most of these people I would suggest that they keep their crystal balls in their pants; they have been consistently wrong and it’s time for them to shut up. If you were predicting that inflation would be “transitory” last year, then you have no right to act like you are an economist today.

It’s going to take a lot more than one semi-aggressive rate hike from the central bank to stop the inflation problem, and when I say “inflation” I am talking about PRICE INFLATION, not the mere increase of the money supply or a bubble in stock markets. There are far too many financial analysts out there that don’t even grasp what true inflation really entails.

There are certain sectors of the economy that will indeed see deflationary pressures. Real GDP, for example, is witnessing declines. Retail sales are in decline. US wages are stagnant in comparison to prices. Housing sales are now falling rapidly. Manufacturing is dropping. Yet, prices continue to remain high. Clearly there is a mix of inflationary and deflationary elements within the same economic crisis. In other words, it’s a stagflation event.

An area in which prices continue to climb without much relent is energy. The mainstream blames this almost entirely on Russia’s conflict with Ukraine and the evolving sanctions against Russian oil and natural gas. However, gas prices were spiking well before Russia ever invaded Ukraine. Inflation in the overall economy hit 40 year highs long before Ukraine became an issue, as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell finally admitted this past week.

Let’s not pretend like we don’t know the cause of all of this. It is caused by fiat money printing by the Federal Reserve since 2008, and central banks in general are the culprits. The bankers can fund or refuse to fund whatever they wish. Government politicians play their role in creating inflation by ASKING for the money, but it is the Fed that decides if they create the money. The government has zero power to dictate policy to the Fed; as Alan Greenspan once admitted, the Fed answers to no one.

The central bank could print us into oblivion if they wished, and this is essentially what they have done. That said, there are other elements to our current crisis beyond too many dollars. There is also the issue of supply chain disruptions.

I am specifically reminded of the stagflation threat that occurred in 1970s. The oil and stagflation crisis of the late 1970s ran its course right before I was born, so obviously I can’t give a first hand accounting of what it was like, but when I study the events that led up to it I find a lot of similarities to the situation we are facing today. Though, the crisis that is developing right now has the potential to become far worse.

In the early 1970s Richard Nixon, at the request of central bankers, removed the dollar from the last vestiges of the gold standard. Central banks shifted away from gold as the primary trade mechanism between governments and started switching over to Special Drawing Rights; the IMF’s basket currency system. Not surprisingly, the dollar began an immediate spiral and its buying power began to crash. Stagflation became a household concern throughout the 70s.

This problem was mitigated eventually as the dollar’s world reserve status grew. Basically, we exported many of our dollars overseas for use in global trade, and by extension we also exported a lot of our inflation/stagflation. As long as the dollar remained the premier reserve currency, most of the consequences of central bank fiat printing would not be felt by the general populace. In terms of gasoline, the dollar has been the petro-currency for decades which allowed us to keep prices in the US lower than in many countries.

But things are changing. The dollar’s portion of global trade has been in decline for the past several years, and the Fed just keeps creating more greenbacks from nothing. In 2020 alone, the Fed conjured $6 trillion to fuel the covid stimulus response, pumping all that money directly into the system through covid checks and PPP loans. In order for this process to continue, the dollar’s global percentage of trade would have to keep growing in order to export US inflation overseas. This is not happening. The dollar’s percentage of global trade is in reversion.

We are dealing with the end of a cycle that started in the 1970s. We are going back to the beginning.

Furthermore, the gas crisis in the late 70s and early 80s was also driven by the Iranian revolution and the removal of Iranian oil supplies from the global market. This created a loss of around 7% of total oil from markets, but it resulted in gas prices exploding from 65 cents in 1978 to $1.35 in 1981. Prices more than doubled in the span of three years and never went back to where they were before the crisis.

As in the late 1970s, we also have a supply chain issue with an OPEC nation. The Russian portion of the global oil production was around 10% in 2020, but the nation is the 2nd largest oil exporter in the world. Only 3% of oil imported into the US comes from Russia, but Europe relies on Russia for around 25% of its total oil consumption.

The EU now supposedly cutting off that supply of oil, though there are questions surrounding loopholes and how much Russian oil is actually still being supplied to European nations. As sanctions continue, the EU will have to go to other exporters to get what they need and this is reducing the amount of supply available to western countries. The Russians have simply adapted, and are now selling more oil as a discount to major eastern markets like China and India. But for the rest of us, Europe’s thirst for oil is going to continue to cause price expansion as supplies falter.

So where does this leave us? Our situation is similar to the gas crisis of the late 1970s because we have ongoing stagflation, a weakening currency as well as a major economic conflict with an OPEC producer. That said, things are measurably worse than the 1970s for a few reasons, notably the fact that our country is in far more debt, foreign treasury and dollar holdings are in decline, and the conflict with Russia is far more egregious than our troubles with Iran in the 70s.

I suspect we will see at least a 300% markup in gas prices from pre-pandemic lows, which were around $2.60 per gallon for regular. Meaning, prices will continue to climb over the course of this year and level out around $7.50 per gallon by the second quarter of 2023. I am basing the pace of the price increases according to the pace that occurred from 1979-1981.

Obviously, there will be market dips and pauses, but it is unlikely we will see prices at the pump fall dramatically anytime soon. There will be endless predictions in the mainstream media about when inflation will stop and many pundits will claim that the Fed will capitulate soon on rate hikes. All this clamor will affect oil markets to a point, but prices will continue to rise regardless.

Some people will argue that declining demand will stop rising prices, however, the stagflation problem does not only revolve around demand, there are many other factors at play. Unless we see a drop in demand similar to what we saw at the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns, there is little chance there will be a meaningful reversal.

Also, for anyone hoping that US shale or OPEC will pick up the slack from Russia, this is not going to happen. Oil industry experts have already noted that because of inflation and lack of manpower there will not be a major uptick in oil pumping and so shortages will continue for some time.

What does this mean for the wider economy? Inflation in necessities like gasmuch means an implosion in retail. People will divert funds away from other purchases to cover gas and energy costs. Expensive gas also means expensive freight rates, which means higher prices for everything else on the store shelves. Expensive gas will also cause smaller freight companies to go bankrupt or close up shop, along with much higher interest rates being instituted by the Fed. My own grandfather lost his trucking and freight company in the 1970’s for this exact reason.

In turn, less freight means less supply, which in turn means higher prices on everything. It’s a terrible cycle. The point is, you should expect gas prices to remain very high (into the $7 per gallon range) over the course of the next year, and this will affect EVERYTHING else in terms of your pocket book and your life. Don’t put too much stock in the people claiming deflation is on the way; not in prices of necessities it’s not.

Eventually, lack of demand will slow price increases but not until we are much higher than the current national average of $5 a gallon. And, if you live in a state with high gas taxes like California, then be prepared for double digit costs at the pump.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/25/2022 - 13:30

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Government

The End Game Approaches

The pendulum of market sentiment swings dramatically.  It has swung from nearly everyone and their sister complaining that the Federal Reserve was lagging…

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The pendulum of market sentiment swings dramatically.  It has swung from nearly everyone and their sister complaining that the Federal Reserve was lagging behind the surge in prices to fear of a recession.  On June 15, at the conclusion of the last FOMC meeting, the swaps market priced in a 4.60% terminal Fed funds rate.  That seemed like a stretch, given the headwinds the economy faces that include fiscal policy and an energy and food price shock on top of monetary policy tightening. It is now seen closer to 3.5%.  It is lower now than it was on when the FOMC meeting concluded on May 4 with a 50 bp hike.  

In addition to the tightening of monetary policy and the roughly halving of the federal budget deficit, the inventory cycle, we argued was mature and would not be the tailwind it was in Q4. While we recognized that the labor market was strong, with around 2.3 mln jobs created in the first five month, we noted the four-week moving average of weekly jobless claims have been rising for more than two months.  In the week to June 17, the four-week moving average stood at 223k.  It is a 30% increase from the lows seen in April.  It is approaching the four-week average at the end of 2019 (238k), which itself was a two-year high.  In addition, we saw late-cycle behavior with households borrowing from the past (drawing down savings and monetizing their house appreciation) and from the future (record credit card use in March and April).  

The Fed funds futures strip now sees the Fed's rate cycle ending in late Q1 23 or early Q2 23.  A cut is being priced into the last few months of next year.  This has knock-on effects on the dollar.  We suspect it is an important part of the process that forms a dollar peak.  There is still more wood to chop, as they say, and a constructive news stream from Europe and Japan is still lacking.  The sharp decline in Russian gas exports to Europe is purposely precipitating a crisis that Germany's Green Economic Minister, who reluctantly agreed to boost the use of coal (though not yet extend the life of Germany's remaining nuclear plants that are to go offline at the end of the year), warns could spark a Lehman-like event in the gas sector.  

At the low point last week, the US 10-year yield had declined by around 50 bp from the peak the day before the Fed delivered its 75 bp hike.  This eases a key pressure on the yen, and, at the same time, gives the BOJ some breathing space for the 0.25% cap on its 10-year bond.  A former Ministry of Finance official cited the possibility of unilateral interventionWhile we recognize this as another step up the intervention escalation ladder, it may not be credible.  First, it was a former official.  It would be considerably more important if it were a current official.  Second, by raising the possibility, it allowed some short-covering of the yen, which reduces the lopsided positioning and reduces the impact of intervention.  Third, on the margin, it undermines the surprise-value.  

Ultimately, the decline in the yen reflects fundamental considerations.  The widening of the divergence of monetary policy is not just that other G10 countries are tightening, but also that Japan is easing policy.  A couple of weeks ago, to defend its yield-curve-control, the BOJ bought around $80 bln in government bonds.  The odds of a successful intervention, besides the headline impact, is thought to be enhanced if it signals a change in policy and/or if it is coordinated (multilateral).  

There are a few high frequency data points that will grab attention in the coming days, but they are unlikely to shape the contours of the investment and business climate.  The key drivers are the pace that financial conditions are tightening, the extent that China's zero-Covid policy is disrupting its economy and global supply chains, and the uncertainty around where inflation will peak. 

Most of the high frequency data, like China's PMI and Japan's industrial production report and the quarterly Tankan survey results, and May US data are about fine-tuning the understanding of Q2 economic activity and the momentum at going into Q3.  They pose headline risk, perhaps, but may be of little consequence.  It is all about the inflation and inflation expectations: except in Japan. Tokyo's May CPI, released a few weeks before the national figures, is most unlikely to persuade the Bank of Japan that the rise in inflation will not be temporary.  

With fear of recession giving inflation a run for its money in terms of market angst, the dollar may be vulnerable to disappointing real sector data, though the disappointing preliminary PMI likely stole some thunder.  The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow says the US economy has stagnated in Q2, but this is not representative of expectations.  It does not mean it is wrong, but it is notable that the median in Bloomberg's survey is that the US economy is expanding by 3% at an annualized rate.  This seems as optimistic as the Atlanta Fed model is pessimistic.  May consumption and income figures will help fine-tune GDP forecasts, but the deflator may lose some appeal.  Even though the Fed targets the headline PCE deflator, Powell cited the CPI as the switch from 50 to 75 bp hike.  

In that light, the preliminary estimate of the eurozone's June CPI that comes at the end of next week might be the most important economic data point.  It comes ahead of the July 21 ECB meeting for which the first rate hike in 11 years has been all but promised.  Although ECB President Lagarde had seemed to make clear a 25 bp initial move was appropriate, the market thinks the hawks may continue to press and have about a 1-in-3 chance of a 50 bp move.  The risk of inflation is still on the upside and Lagarde has mentioned the higher wage settlements in Q2.  That said, the investors are becoming more concerned about a recession and expectations for the year-end policy rate have fallen by 30 bp (to about 0.90%) since mid-June.  

A couple of days before the CPI release the ECB hosts a conference on central banking in Sintra (June 27-June 29).  The topic of this year's event is "Challenges for monetary policy in a rapidly changing world," which seems apropos for almost any year.  The conventional narrative places much of the responsibility of the high inflation on central banks.  It is not so much the dramatic reaction to the Pandemic as being too slow to pullback.  In the US, some argue that the fiscal stimulus aggravated price pressures. On the face of it, the difference in fiscal policy between the US and the eurozone, for example, may not explain the difference between the US May CPI of 8.6% year-over-year and EMU's 8.1% increase, or Canada's 7.7% rise, or the UK's 9.1% pace.

There is a case to be made that we are still too close to the pandemic to put the experience in a broader context. This may also be true because the effects are still rippling through the economies.  In the big picture, central banks, leaving aside the BOJ, appear to have responded quicker this time than after the Great Financial Crisis in pulling back on the throttle, even if they could have acted sooner.  Some of the price pressures may be a result of some of the changes wrought by the virus.  For example, a recent research paper found that over half of the nearly 24% rise in US house prices since the end of 2019 can be explained by the shift to working remotely, for example. 

The rise in gasoline prices in the US reflect not only the rise in oil prices, but also the loss of refining capacity. The pandemic disruptions saw around 500k barrels a day of refining capacity shutdown.  Another roughly 500k of day of refining capacity shifted to biofuels.  ESG considerations, and pressure on shale producers to boost returns to shareholders after years of disappointment have also discouraged investment into the sector.  The surge in commodity prices from energy and metals to semiconductors to lumber are difficult to link to monetary or fiscal policies.  

Such an explanation would also suggest that contrary to some suggestions, the US is not exporting inflation.  Instead, most countries are wrestling with similar supply-driven challenges and disruptions.  That said, consider that US core CPI has risen 6% in the year through May, while the ECB's core rate is up 3.8%, and rising. The US core rate has fallen for two months after peaking at 6.5%.  The UK's core CPI was up 5.9% in May, its first slowing (from 6.2%) since last September.  Japan's CPI stood at 2.5% in May, but the measure excluding fresh food and energy has risen a benign 0.8% over the past 12 months.  

Consider Sweden.  The Riksbank meets on June 30.  May CPI accelerated to 7.3% year-over-year.  The underlying rate, which uses a fixed interested rate, and is the rate the central bank has targeted for five years is at 7.2%.  The underlying rate excluding energy is still up 5.4% year-over-year, more than doubling since January.  The policy rate sits at 0.25%, having been hiked from zero in April.  The economy is strong.  The May composite PMI was a robust 64.4.  The economy appears to be growing around a 3% year-over-year clip.  Unemployment, however, remains elevated at 8.5%, up from 6.4% at the end of last year.  The swaps market has a 50 bp hike fully discounted and about a 1-in-3 chance of a 75 bp hike.  The next Riksbank meeting is not until September 20, and the market is getting close to pricing in a 100 bp hike.  Year-to-date, the krona has depreciated 11% against the dollar and about 3% against the euro.  

In addition to macroeconomic developments, geopolitics gets the limelight in the coming days.  The G7 summit is June 26-28.  Coordinating sanctions on Russia will likely dominate the agenda and as the low-hanging fruit has been picked, it will be increasingly challenging to extend them to new areas.  

At least two important issues will go unspoken and they arise from domestic US political considerations.  Although President Biden has recommended a three-month gas tax holiday, he needs Congress to do it.  That is unlikely.  Inflation, and in particular gasoline prices are a critical drag on the administration and the Democrats more broadly, who look set to lose both houses.  And the Senate and Congressional Republicans are not inclined to soften the blow.  Talk of renewing an export ban on gasoline and/oil appears to be picking up. The American president has more discretion here. This type of protectionism needs to be resisted because could it be a slippery slope. 

The other issue is the global corporate tax reform.  Although many countries, most recently Poland, have been won over, it looks increasingly likely that the US Senate will not approve it.  Biden and Yellen championed it, but the votes are not there now, and it seems even less likely they will be there in the next two years.  The particulars are new, but the pattern is not.  The US has not ratified the Law of the Seas nor is it a member of the International Court of Justice. Some push back and say that the US acts as if it were.  That argument will be less persuasive on the corporate tax reform.  

NATO meets on June 29-30.  For the first time, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea will be attending.  Clearly, the signal is that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is not distracting from China. Most recently, China pressed its case that the Taiwan Strait is not international waters.  Some in Europe, including France, do not want to dilute NATO's mission by extending its core interest to the Asia Pacific area and distracting from European challenges. NATO is to publish a new long-term strategy paper.  Consider that the last one was in 2010 and did not mention Beijing and said it would seek a strategic partnership with Russia.  Putin's actions broke the logjam in Sweden and Finland, and both now want to join NATO, but Turkey is holding it up.  


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