PUTIN'S RUSSIAN RULETTE
Even as Western sanctions over Ukraine bite, crashing oil prices are hitting Russia's economy and government finances.
OPEC announced on Thursday that it will leave production unchanged, despite hopes from some members to cut output to push prices. Instead, oil prices have plunged further, with U.S. crude tumbling below $70 a barrel.
A Russia oil tycoon on Lukoil's board predicted that OPEC's action will drive out unprofitable U.S. shale plays, reducing supply and boosting prices. Indeed, U.S. shale stocks plunged Friday. While U.S. marginal production could be affected down the road, Russia's economy is in trouble.
The Russian ruble has tumbled vs. the U.S. dollar amid growing concerns about the Russian economy. Capital is streaming out of the country while foreign investment is drying up. Russia's central bank spent a substantial sum in a futile attempt to defend the currency.
Russia's GDP is still rising, at least in rubles. But pricey imports and soaring inflation are starting to hit Russian businesses and citizens.
There are concerns about dollar-denominated borrowing by Russian businesses and banks. That in turn, could spur President Vladimir Putin to provide bailouts, especially to state-run enterprises.
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AN - China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) is willing to invest $3 billion in its existing oil and gas operation in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Sunday following a meeting with the Chinese in Abuja.
REUTERS - Production at Libya’s giant Sharara oil field was expected to fall by at least 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) on Saturday after two staff were abducted in an attack by an unknown group, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said.
IMF - Output grew by 3.8 percent in 2017, underpinned by a resilient non-hydrocarbon sector, with robust implementation of GCC-funded projects as well as strong activity in the financial, hospitality, and education sectors. The banking system remains stable with large capital buffers. Growth is projected to decelerate over the medium term.
IMF - Higher oil prices and short-term portfolio inflows have provided relief from external and fiscal pressures but the recovery remains challenging. Inflation declined to its lowest level in more than two years. Real GDP expanded by 2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of last year. However, activity in the non-oil non-agricultural sector remains weak as lower purchasing power weighs on consumer demand and as credit risk continues to limit bank lending.