Top commodity trader and world’s biggest shipper of fuel, Glencore Plc, expects an impressive trading profit for the year, hitting the top end of its target, as the commodities giant joins other big oil companies who are making a huge fortune from the volatile oil market.
Bloomberg had reported that the oil and commodity trader has reported almost $1 billion in earnings before interest and taxes in oil trading in the first half of 2020, similar to what was earned for the full year 2019.
Income from oil trading has played a big role in sustaining the energy sector, which has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic this year. Anglo-Dutch giant, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, on Thursday, disclosed that the oil company recorded the best performance in its trading business for last quarter.
Also, the French oil rival, Total SE, said that it was able to exploit the extreme price volatility during April’s unprecedented supply glut. The 2 giants made small profits against expectations of losses with the help of trading units, which exploited the market prices when they were down.
The trading units of European oil and gas majors have shielded their second-quarter results from the full force of the coronavirus induced collapse of oil demand and prices, although according to the published results, huge write-downs by these firms showed the magnitude of the challenge ahead.
The Chief Executive Officer of Glencore, Ivan Glasenberg, on Friday said, ‘’Our marketing business has also risen to the challenge, delivering robust counter-cyclical earnings. A very strong first-half performance allows us to now raise our full-year 2020 EBIT expectations to the top end of our $2.2-$3.2 billion guidance range.’’
Glencore revealed that during oil prices crash in March and April, traders were able to buy and store huge volumes of cheap crude before selling them later for higher prices, a trade known in industry jargon as a contango play. Still, putting more money into these trades led to an increase in net debt.
The trading profit will be a relief for Glencore. Once again, the miner and trader have missed out on an iron rally that has provided bumper earnings for its biggest rivals, such as Rio Tinto Plc and Anglo American Plc. Glencore’s mining profits are driven by coal and copper, but it has no exposure to the steelmaking ingredient.
Glencore is the world’s biggest shipper of the fuel and has previously taken steps to defend the market. In 2015, during the oil price crash, the company made big cuts to its output, thereby helping the fuel rally as demand recovered.
Glencore’s shares rose 1.4% to 179.48 pence by 9.24 am in London. The stock has lost nearly a quarter of its value this year. Glencore helped the FTSE 100 bounce back on Friday following a US data-driven slump in the previous session.
Crude oil price remains relatively stable amid mixed economic data
Brent crude futures rose slightly at 0.13% to trade at $45.23.
Crude Oil prices remained relatively stable at London’s trading session on Thursday. Crude oil traders are becoming wary due to growing concerns amid rising Coronavirus infections. This is in addition to a recent plunge recorded lately in America’s oil Stockpiles.
The facts: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures eased 0.36% to $42.04 a barrel as at 0905 GMT. Brent crude futures, on the other hand, rose slightly by 0.13% to trade at $45.23.
The two benchmark contracts gained more than 1% yesterday to reach their highest price marks since March 6th, thereby completing a four-day rally after the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a much bigger than expected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles.
Stephen Innes, the Chief Global Market Strategist at AxiCorp in a note to Nairametrics, gave valuable insights on the macros crude oil traders are currently betting on. He said:
“The direction for oil in 2H will depend mainly on the willingness of traders to look through the short-term supply and demand uncertainty as gasoline demand has ground to a halt for now, and the summer season driving clock is ticking.
“But in this environment, traders may be content to focus on the ongoing market rebalancing. The recent surge in virus cases and the re-imposition of some virus control measures will moderately slow the economic recovery in the near term but expect the recovery to get back on track in September, assuming virus developments don’t prompt the re-imposition of widespread lockdown.”
Crude oil traders will ultimately, continue to train their eyes on the ultimate vaccine prize, for a lasting solution to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
OPEC and the major highlights of the Crude Oil markets
In recent weeks, oil demand has really suffered a setback.
Summary of oil markets
Crude oil price movement
- In the last couple of days, one of the benchmarks of oil prices, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), has frequently been going into negative territory and on the other hand, the current pandemic has caused a decrease in demand for oil and oil products, which has been a huge blow on the global economy.
- In July, Brent crude fell 55cents or 1.2% to $43.77 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude declined 56cents or 1.3% to $41.36.
- Since June 23, gasoline margins have been trending lower, after a great recovery in the last three months, as vital economies emerged from lockdown.
- All through the pandemic, diesel margins remained stable but the modest upturn has tailed off in recent weeks.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has spread with startling speed, infecting millions and bringing economic activity to a near-standstill as nations set tight movement restrictions to end the spread of the virus. The economic damage is conspicuous and shows the greatest collapse the world has experienced in decades.
- There will be additional issues if there is a second wave of COVID-19, mainly on the global economy. Aid could potentially fall by US$15 billion, which would be comparable to the EU closing its aid program entirely. This would imply that global economic output could reduce by 7.6% this year and only increase by 2.8% in 2021. The OECD unemployment rate is also close to doubling to 10%, with only a little amend of jobs by 2021.
World oil demand
- In recent weeks, oil demand has really suffered a setback, as the health crisis around the world has affected so many areas of the economic sectors, thus, practically putting an end to the use of fuel for shipments, transportation, and so forth. Due to the lack of consumption, the world’s biggest producers have run out of space to stockpile all of the crude oil that companies are still supplying.
- OPEC forecasts that demand for its crude oil will revitalize steadily next year, surpassing levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic, as competitor producers strive to restore production.
- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries forecasts demand for crude oil to rise by 25% in 2021 to an average of 8million bpd, higher than the level achieved in 2019, according to a monthly report.
- Main producers have flooded the market with millions of barrels of oil glut as a result of the collapsed deal the OPEC+ experience in March. On 12 April, the world’s main producers strategized and accomplished a deal to cut output by almost 10%. The cut has been indeed inadequate to dent the huge glut that keeps growing due to the pandemic-induced shutdown of the global economy, which has made the demand for oil to be slashed by more than 30%. What the market has been experiencing lately is indeed a massive imbalance.
- While the increase in demand is slightly determined by recuperation in global oil demand as economic growth continues, a much huge determinant is the setback of OPEC’s rivals. In the wake of declining 7.4% this year, the U.S. will see only limited production growth in 2021.
World oil supply
- For countries that are outside the OPEC+ agreement, there are massive cuts in output, especially from countries the US and Canada. With the effect of the OPEC+ agreement, it is estimated that there will be a reduction of 12million barrels a day in global oil supply, every month.
- Production is expected to increase later in July in response to recovery of global oil demand and prices. EIA expects a gradual increase in OPEC crude oil production from July through the rest of the forecast, and a rise underway to an average of 2.8million bpd during the second half of 2021.
- Oil production has been responding broadly to market forces and economic activities are beginning to experience a gradual but fragile recovery. Although, the concerns are whether governments can ease lockdown measures without a comeback or COVID-19 epidemic and if maximum level of conformity with the OPEC+ agreement will be accomplished and maintained by all the major alliances.
- EIA forecasts that for 2020 as a whole, non-OPEC production will decline by 2.2million barrels a day from 2019 levels. EIA expects the production of non-OPEC oil and other liquid fuels to increase by 1.1million bpd in 2021.
- Oil prices climbed by more than $1 a barrel to it highest in over a month. This was backed by output cuts and signs of a gradual recovery in fuel demand as more countries ease restrictions set to prevent the Coronavirus pandemic from spreading.
Product markets and refining operations
- The weight on refining margins will partially be a result of a sharp increase in oil product stocks during the pandemic’s peak. The IEA said that total products stocks rose by 58.5million barrels, or almost 2million barrels in April and by 0.3million bpd in the first quarter.
- The huge build in market levels is probably going to have been a key factor behind what the IEA called a “freefall” in refining margins in May. It forecast products stock will attract the second half of the year, as frail margins go about as a delay on refining movement.
- Globally, the IEA Forecast processing machines output to decrease by 5.4million bpd this year and afterward to increase by 5.3million in 2021. It amends upwards it’s estimated for 2020 outputs to 76.4million bpd from 75.8million bpd in it’s past monthly Oil Market report.
Crude and refined product trade
- Better than anticipated convenience Organization For Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) countries and the gradual relaxation of lockdown estimates prompted an upward change of 3.2million barrels a day to our global 2Q20 demand number, yet it is still sharply down a year ago by 19.9million barrels a day. Although, our outlook for 2020 generally shows fall in demand of 8.6million barrels a day, 0.7million barrels a day, more than in the past report. A resurgence of Covid-19 is a significant risk factor.
- It is a familiar way of thinking that high oil prices directly and negatively sway the U.S economy and the stock market.
Balance of supply and demand
- EIA expects global oil inventories to generally draw through the end of 2021 as EIA estimates global oil demand will recover. In spite of the fact that EIA’s forecast consumption of global liquid fuels of 101.1million barrels a day, the final quarter of 2021 would still be less than during a similar time of 2019, it would be 16.7million barrels a day more than in the second quarter of 2020.
- EIA additionally expects global oil supply to rise in the coming quarters. Regardless of the purposeful production curb from OPEC+ producers, alongside the lingering impacts of low oil prices on U.S. strict oil production, will restrain increases. As a result, EIA expects global oil inventories to decrease at a rate of 1.8million barrels a day through the end of 2021, eliminating the majority of the excess that amassed in mid-2020.
Gold prices surge past $2,020 due to weaker U.S dollar
The price of Spot gold as at 05.59 GMT was up by 0.20% to trade at $2,023.41.
Gold continued its bullish rally on Wednesday morning. The precious metal extended its new record run above the $2,000 mark, due to a weaker greenback and hopes of more stimulus packages to revive the world’s fragile economy.
The price of Spot gold as at 05.59 GMT was up by 0.20% to trade at $2,023.41. Gold prices have gained about 33% this year.
The U.S. dollar, which is often considered a safe-haven currency, dropped by 0.3% against its major rivals, thereby making gold cheaper for holders of other currencies.
Why it’s happening
As usual, AxiCorp’s Chief Global Market Strategist, Stephen Innes, explained to Nairametrics the macros helping gold to surge past record highs. He said:
“Concerns remain around a second wave in Europe as daily case growth has started to accelerate from shallow levels in most countries.
“However, the levels are nowhere near that seen in the US, which is now on a downward trajectory.
“Still, markets fear a second Covid-19 surge into winter (northern hemisphere), and the associated rise in volatility still favors gold as a defensive strategy.
“But the economic damage is done, and even a vaccine is not going to bring back lost assets in Global GDP terms that when up in smoke. The only real cure to claw back some of that lost GDP is global interest rates low for as far as the eye can see and even redoubled amounts government stimulus, which is highly favorable for gold.”
READ MORE: Bitcoin has halved, what happens next?
Also note that the price of gold also continues to be supported by the ongoing the weakness in the dollar as well as hopes on negotiations for a new COVID-related aid package in the U.S.