Oil prices on Friday slipped away from December-2014 highs reached the previous day. Although analysts and traders have been warning of the risks
Oil slips away from 2014 highs, though overall 2018 outlook remains firm – Oil prices on Friday slipped away from December-2014 highs reached the previous day. Although analysts and traders have been warning of the risks of a downward price correction since the start of the year, they point out that overall market conditions remain strong, largely due to ongoing production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia. Traders said relatively weak China December oil data had weighed on prices. China’s crude oil imports in December eased to 33.7 million tonnes, or 7.97 million barrels per day, versus 37.04 million tonnes in November, customs data showed on Friday. Meanwhile, its December oil products exports hit a record 6.17 million tonnes, as refiners churn out more fuel than even thirsty China can absorb. This has contributed to a fall in Singapore refinery profit margins to below $6 per barrel this month, their lowest seasonal level in five years. As a result, some refiners have already scaled back their output, reducing demand for feedstock crude.
Gold Prices at 4-Month Peak as U.S. Dollar Weakens – Gold prices were trading at four-month highs on Friday, as sentiment on the greenback remained vulnerable following weak U.S. data released on Thursday and ahead of key retail sales and inflation reports due later in the day. The greenback came under pressure after the U.S. Department of Labor reported on Thursday that initial jobless claims increased to 261,000 last week, compared to expectations for a drop to 246,000. The U.S. dollar had gained ground earlier Thursday after China’s foreign exchange regulator said that a report about Beijing slowing or halting its U.S. bond buying may be based on erroneous information and could be “fake”.Bloomberg reported this week that Chinese officials reviewing foreign-exchange holdings had recommended slowing or halting purchases of U.S. bonds. China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. government debt.
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