“Trump Slams OPEC as Cartel Pushes Harder for High Oil Prices.”
U.S. President Donald Trump slammed OPEC for inflating oil prices after the cartel showed a willingness to further tighten crude markets.
“Looks like OPEC is at it again,” Trump said on Twitter, not long after energy ministers finished their meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. “Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!”
The president’s ire followed a stream of bullish signals from a meeting of oil producers in Saudi Arabia, chiefly from the kingdom’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih. The crude glut that’s weighed on prices for three years has almost been wiped out by OPEC’s production cuts, but instead of celebrating victory the group is finding reasons to keep going and drive fuel inventories even lower.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell about 69 cents at the time of the tweet, before trading down 0.8 percent at $73.17 a barrel as of 2:31 p.m. in London. The purpose of the shift in OPEC’s target was clear: There’s capacity for prices to rise even further beyond their current three-year high, Al-Falih said.
“We have seen prices significantly higher in the past, twice as much as where we are today” and the global economy has the ability to absorb costlier crude, the Saudi minister said.
International oil prices surged to almost $75 a barrel this week and U.S. gasoline is the highest in almost three years. Yet OPEC’s choke-hold on its own production is only getting tighter. Saudi Arabia is said to desire crude closer to $80.
“Safe no more? Swiss franc slide raises Russia puzzle.”
The Swiss franc, long a place to park cash during times of stress – and away from the taxman’s eyes – may be losing its cachet, not least for Russian tycoons who face growing crackdown risks, from local regulations as well as at home.
The franc slid on Thursday to 1.20 per euro EURCHF=EBS, the level at which the Swiss National Bank in January 2015 abruptly abandoned as its exchange rate cap in a decision dubbed Frankenshock. The currency’s latest drop has drawn particular attention because it coincides with a spike in geo-political tensions. In previous years, that would have caused the franc to surge because it was one of the assets that would hold its value, even during troubled times.
So far this year, though, it has lost 2.5 percent against the euro. Meanwhile, gold and the yen, also considered safe, have gained nearly five percent each. Even the past weekend’s missile strike on Syria and crippling sanctions on a range of Russian companies failed to lift the Swiss currency.
For many, the reason is simple. The SNB has refused to signal it will follow the European Central Bank in tightening monetary policy when the latter ends its bond-buying program later this year. SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan has stressed that ending its ultra-loose policy is not on the agenda.
As a result, bets against the Swiss franc are being rebuilt, leading to the peculiar weakening of the currency, some argue. Latest CFTC data shows a 1.4 billion net short position against the franc, nearly doubling from a month ago.
Jonathan Davies, head of currency strategy at UBS Asset Management sees fair value in the “low 1.20s”, attributing it to “divergence in monetary policy trends between the two central banks, which is favoring a weaker franc.”
“Basque group Eta apology criticised by victims.”
An apology from the Basque organisation Eta to those killed in its armed independence struggle has been rejected by victims’ groups. The separatists in the Spanish Basque Country asked for «forgiveness» for killing people without «a direct participation in the conflict».
Victims’ groups accused Eta of seeking to justify its use of violence and attempting to rewrite history. Eta is widely expected to announce its dissolution in the coming weeks.
The militants killed more than 800 people and wounded thousands more over 40 years of conflict as they sought to establish an independent Basque state in the area spreading across northern Spain and into south-western France.
«We are aware that during this long period of armed struggle we have created a lot of pain, including many damages for which there is no solution,» the group said in a statement published in two Basque newspapers.
The Victims of Terrorism Association (AVT) said the statement was another step in Eta’s strategy of «diluting its true responsibility» and manipulating history «to whitewash the criminal past».
AVT leader Maria del Mar Blanco told AFP news agency: «I find it shameful and immoral that they should make a distinction between people who deserved a bullet in the back of the head or a bomb in their car and accidental victims who did not deserve it.»
Another group, the Collective of Victims of Terrorism (COVITE), also criticised that distinction, and said Eta was maintaining its story of a «non-existent conflict» and aiming to «blur its responsibility over crimes committed».
Spain’s government said Eta was defeated politically and operationally and had not achieved any of its goals.
“Canada Inflation Rate.”
Consumer prices in Canada increased 2.3 percent year-on-year in March of 2018, above 2.2 percent in February and compared to market expectations of 2.4 percent. It is the highest inflation rate since October of 2014, as prices in seven of the eight major components rose, mainly gasoline. Excluding gasoline, inflation was 1.8 percent, the same as in February.
Seven of eight major components increased on a year-over-year basis in March. The clothing and footwear index (-0.1 percent) was the lone major component to decline year over year.
For the second consecutive month, energy prices rose more on a year-over-year basis. Gasoline prices were 17.1 percent higher compared with March 2017, and were the largest contributor to the gain in energy prices.
The price of services was up 2.7 percent year over year in March. Passenger vehicle insurance premiums rose 1.4 percent in the 12 months to March. Recent interest rate increases continue to impact the mortgage interest cost index (+2.8 percent), which posted its eighth consecutive year-over-year rise.
Consumers paid less on a year-over-year basis for food in March (+1.7 percent) than they did in February (+2.1 percent). Prices for fresh vegetables (-2.1 percent) and meat (-0.4 percent) fell month over month.
Prices for durable goods increased 0.3 percent in the 12 months to March, following a larger gain in February (+0.6 percent). The purchase of passenger vehicles index declined 1.5 percent on a month-over-month basis in March, reflecting higher rebates reported for various 2018 model-year vehicles.
On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.3 percent, below 0.6 percent in February. The BoC’s annual core inflation, which excludes volatile items, edged down to 1.4 percent from 1.5 percent..