Nov 12, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Global oil benchmarks are rising this morning with a record run of losses looking poised to end, driven by increased speculation that OPEC and its allies will cut output next year. Saudi Arabia said there should be a reduction constituting about half the increase made earlier this year when prices spiked due to supply-shortage fears in part fed by Iranian sanctions. The comments, and the second policy U-turn this year, spurred a rise of as much as $1.09 for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate for December delivery to $61.28. Taking a longer-term view of the oil market, one Saudi government-backed think tank has studied what a world without OPEC would look like.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is coming under pressure to ditch her Brexit plan with strong domestic opposition – within her own party and other parliamentary supporters of her government – raising the prospect of defeat should it be voted on in Westminster. Another hurdle is the European Union’s insistence that the U.K. continues to adhere to the some of the bloc’s regulations, such as environmental rules, into which the country would have no input after the split. The pound dropped as the chances of a November summit to agree on a way forward with EU leaders rapidly fade.
Authorities in China signaled tougher management of the yuan when the People’s Bank of China cut a pledge to allow the market to play a larger role in setting the exchange rate in its latest quarterly monetary report. With the phrase dropped from the report for the first time since 2013, China bears are shorting yuan proxies as traders see looming risks of monetary intervention. Chinese equities were the strongest performers in the region, after a promise from Premier Li Keqiang of more support for the private sector also helped lift sentiment.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.4 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.1 percent lower in relatively quiet trading. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was down 0.1 percent at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time as political risks outweighed falling currencies and rising oil prices. S&P 500 futures were flat, U.S. bond markets are closed for Veterans Day and gold was lower.
Last Tuesday’s midterm elections are not over yet, with both Senate and governor races in Florida in the midst of a recount. There is now a dash to finish tallying up the millions of votes ahead of mandated deadline of 3 p.m. on Nov. 15, a task which some see as impossible. Congress returns to work this week with both sides promising to work together to avoid a partial government shutdown, a task which may be made more difficult by President Donald Trump’s demands for funding for his border wall.