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|14 March, 2019

Thursday outlook: Oil prices hit 2019-high on tightening supplies

Asian shares were mainly unchanged early on Thursday. Saudi Arabia's index added 1 percent on Wednesday

Image used for illustrative purpose. oil refinery industry plant along twilight morning.

Image used for illustrative purpose. oil refinery industry plant along twilight morning.

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  • Brent oil prices hit 2019 high
  • Asian shares unchanged
  • Saudi Arabia’s index gains 1 percent
  • Dollar unchanged, gold near two-week highs

Oil prices

Brent crude oil prices on Thursday hit their highest so far this year, supported by tightening supplies.

International Brent crude oil futures marked a 2019-peak of $67.80 per barrel in Asian morning hours. That was also the strongest level since November 2018.

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Brent was still at $67.75 per barrel at 0244 GMT, up 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from its last close.

OPEC issued a list of oil production cuts by its members and other major producers for six months starting January 1, to boost confidence in its oil supply reduction pact.

Oil prices have also been boosted by lower supply from Venezuela, as the U.S. introduced petroleum export sanctions against state-owned Venezuelan energy firm PDVSA.

“Tighter global inventories from OPEC-led supply cuts and ... U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan petroleum products have cemented support for oil prices,” Benjamin Lu of Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures, told Reuters.

Global markets

Asian shares remained unchanged early on Thursday as investors reacted cautiously to mixed data from China.

The state of U.S.-China trade talks also weighed on investors after President Donald Trump said he was in no rush to complete an agreement.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan held at 522.06 points.

Chinese shares were in the red after data showed the country’s industrial output expanded at the slowest pace in 17 years, although retail sales and fixed asset investment grew by more than expected.

Middle East markets

Saudi Arabia’s index added 1 percent on Wednesday with Al Rajhi Bank gaining 0.9 percent. Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) also rose 1 percent in active trade after it said it will merge its units Saudi Petrochemical Co and Arabian Petrochemical Co.

The Abu Dhabi index was down 0.9 percent, with Emirates Telecommunications Group shedding 4.1 percent. United Arab Bank plunged 9.6 percent in light trade while Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank lost 2.4 percent.

In Dubai, the index was flat, but courier firm Aramex surged 9.1 percent in its heaviest trading volume since December 2009 with 42.4 million shares changing hands, after the company said that Australia Post Transaction Services had sold its 10 percent stake in the firm for 602.6 million dirhams ($164 million).

Egypt's blue chip index edged down 0.1 percent with El Sewedy Electric shedding 1.8 percent.

Qatar's index was flat with Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding losing 3.2 percent.

Kuwait’s premier market index was mainly flat, Bahrain’s index rose 0.4 percent and Oman’s index edged 0.2 percent lower.

Currencies

The dollar was mainly unchanged on Thursday, after dropping overnight.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, stood little changed at 96.505. It shed 0.4 percent overnight, at one point brushing a nine-day trough of 96.385.

Precious metals

Gold held close to two-week highs on Thursday.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,307.53 per ounce by 0110 GMT, after touching its highest since March 1 at $1,311.07 in the previous session.

U.S. gold futures were also down 0.1 percent at $1,308 an ounce.

(Reporting by Gerard Aoun; Editing by Mily Chakrabarty)

(gerard.aoun@refinitiv.com)


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