As bulls rejoice over the longest stretch of gains in more than a year, the currency’s advance seems to be causing discomfort for India’s central bank.The late Wednesday announced plans to hold a $5 billion for a three-year tenor, to supply funds to banks for a longer duration. Currency watchers say the move also serves as an intervention as the rupee heads for a fifth straight weekly gain. This is a kind of intervention as the RBI may be anticipating excessive foreign inflows in the coming days and signaling its discomfort with such a strong appreciation.The plans to conduct the dollar-rupee buy-sell swap auction on March 26, it said, adding that the dollar amount mobilized through this auction would also reflect in RBI’s foreign exchange reserves for the tenor. This will be negative for the rupee and can weaken it toward 70 per dollar.
Growth in China’s industrial output fell to a 17-year low in the first two months of the year, pointing to further weakness in the world’s second-biggest economy.But investment picked up speed as the government fast-tracked more road and rail projects, offering some relief for policymakers as they work to avert a sharper slowdown, data showed on Thursday.China is ramping up support for the economy this year as growth looks set to plumb 29-year lows. Premier Li Keqiang last week announced hundreds of billions of dollars in additional tax cuts and infrastructure spending, even as officials vowed they would not resort to massive stimulus like in the past.Industrial output rose 5.3 percent in January-February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, less than expected and the slowest pace since early 2002. Factory output growth had been expected to slow to 5.5 percent from December’s 5.7 percent.
The United States aims to cut Iran’s crude exports by about 20 percent to below 1 million barrels per day (bpd) from May by requiring importing countries to reduce purchases to avoid U.S. sanctions.U.S. President Donald Trump eventually aims to halt Iranian oil exports and thereby choke off Tehran’s main source of revenue. Washington is pressuring Iran to curtail its nuclear programme and stop backing militant proxies across the Middle East.The United States will likely renew waivers to sanctions for most countries buying Iranian crude, including the biggest buyers China and India, in exchange for pledges to cut combined imports to below 1 million bpd. That would be around 250,000 bpd below Iran’s current exports of 1.25 million bpd.“The goal right now is to reduce Iranian oil exports to under 1 million barrels per day.
And U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was in no rush to complete a trade pact with China and insisted that any deal include protection for intellectual property, a major sticking point between the two sides during months of negotiations Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had been expected to hold a summit at the president’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida later this month, but no date has been set for a meeting and no in-person talks between their trade teams have been held in more than two weeks.The president, speaking to reporters at the White House, said he thought there was a good chance a deal would be made, in part because China wanted one after suffering from U.S. tariffs on its goods.But he acknowledged Xi may be wary of coming to a summit without an agreement in hand after seeing Trump end a separate summit in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without a peace deal.“I think President Xi saw that I’m somebody that believes in walking when the deal is not done, and you know there’s always a chance it could happen and he probably wouldn’t want that,” Trump said.
President Nicolas Maduro’s government scrambled on Wednesday to return power to western Venezuela following heavy looting in the country’s second largest city, while China offered to help the OPEC-member nation end its worst blackout on record.Power had returned to many parts of Venezuela after a nationwide outage last week, with the country’s main port terminal of Jose, which is crucial for oil exports, resuming operations. The government said people could return to work on Thursday, following several consecutive public holidays due to the lack of electricity.
The British parliament on Wednesday rejected leaving the European Union without a deal, further weakening Prime Minister Theresa May and paving the way for a vote that could delay Brexit until at least the end of June.After a day of high drama, lawmakers defied the government by voting 321 to 278 in favour of a motion that ruled out a potentially disorderly “no-deal” Brexit under any circumstances.It went further than the government’s position of keeping the threat of a “no-deal” Brexit on the negotiating table — a stance many in her party said was essential to push Brussels to make further concessions to the deal they have rejected.While the approved motion has no legal force and ultimately may not prevent a no-deal exit, it carries considerable political force, especially as it passed thanks to a rebellion by members of May’s own Conservative Party and her cabinet.May, who still insists it is not possible to rule out a no-deal Brexit entirely, said lawmakers would need to agree a way forward before an extension could be obtained.
Asian shares barely budged on Thursday as investors reacted cautiously to mixed data from China, while the pound hovered near nine-month highs as the risk of a no-deal Brexit receded following a late-night vote.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan held at 522.06 points.Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.5 percent while Australian and New Zealand shares each added 0.2 percent.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.
Malaysian palm oil futures fell for a seventh consecutive session on Thursday to a three-month low, as concerns over slowing demand and rising production dragged down the market.There was further pressure on prices as Europeans reduce consumption amid environmental concerns associated with the tropical product.The benchmark third-month palm oil contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange fell 1.5 percent to 2,060 ringgit ($503.91) a tonne by the midday break. Earlier in the session, the contract dropped to its weakest since mid-December at 2,057 ringgit a tonne.Global palm oil demand may suffer its first contraction in two decades during the 2019/20 crop year due to rising domestic oilseed supplies in top buyer India and slowing demand in Europe and China, industry participants told.
Gold fell on Thursday as the dollar regained some ground and uncertainty over Brexit eased, but the metal held close to a two-week high hit in the previous session as tepid U.S. inflation data cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve would hold rates.Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,303.83 per ounce as of 0416 GMT, after touching its highest since March 1 at $1,311.07 on Wednesday.U.S. gold futures also dipped 0.4 percent, to $1,304.10 an ounce.
Brent crude oil prices on Thursday hit their highest so far this year, pushed up by ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and by U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran.An unexpected dip in U.S. crude oil inventories and production also lifted prices. 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.Brent was still at $67.75 per barrel at 0244 GMT, up 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from its last close.U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.38 per barrel, up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement, and also close to November 2018 highs reached the previous day.