Global Markets: Oil’s Traffic Light Turns Yellow

Oil traders saw a mixed bag this week with Brent prices treading water near the $60 mark on a mix of bearish and bullish signals. Prices have retained their 20% bounce off their low point three weeks ago but have only retraced 29% of their massive selloff in the fourth quarter.

For news flow, central banks continued to inject bullish risk into the market via the People’s Bank of China which cut their reserve requirement for commercial banks and commented that they would step up lending efforts to small and medium businesses who may be hurt by the US trade slowdown. The Chinese government is also in the process of processing tax cuts for individuals and businesses to further juice economic activity. In the US, Kansas City Fed President and consistent tight money hawk Esther George gave prepared marks and surprisingly urged her fellow FOMC voters to hesitate before enacting further rate hikes in 2019. The US 10yr yield was trading near 2.70% this week which was basically unchanged. The US Dollar Index strengthened slightly following a disastrous Brexit vote for Theresa May which saw Parliament reject her proposal by a margin of 432-202.

In geopolitics, the most important item to note this week was the continued slowdown of Iranian exports as Washington reduces waivers for key customers. Bloomberg reported that Iranian exports are currently running near 1m bpd for a drastic decline from 2.7m bpd just six months ago.

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