Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stock & Commodities Related News.

US STOCKS-Wall St advances on energy bump; Facebook woes continues - Reuters News
21-Mar-2018 04:22:59 AM
Oil prices up, energy stocks bounce
Facebook says it faces questions from U.S. FTC
FOMC policy meeting kicks off, guidance eyed
Dow up 0.47 pct, S&P 500 up 0.15 pct, Nasdaq up 0.27 pct
Updates to market close
By Chuck Mikolajczak
March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced modestly on Tuesday as higher oil prices lifted the energy sector, but another slump in Facebook Inc shares curbed gains. 
Oil prices rose more than 2 percent to touch a three-week high, driven by tensions in the Middle East and the possibility of further declines in Venezuelan crude output.
Those gains helped the S&P energy index rise 0.84 percent, making it easily the best performing of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors.
Facebook Inc shares ended down 2.6 percent, well above earlier lows. The social media company said on Tuesday it faced questions from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about how its users' personal data was mined by a political consultancy hired by President Donald Trump's campaign. 
The stock has fallen about 9 percent over the past two sessions, its biggest two-day decline since February 2016, a drop that has weighed heavily on equities. 
U.S. and European lawmakers have demanded an explanation of how the consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, gained access to the data and why Facebook failed to inform its users, raising broader industry questions about consumer privacy and whether tougher regulation is on the horizon. 
"The negative part would be they are going to haul them in front of Congress now and we'll see do they create new laws, are there new regulations that could stunt the growth of the company? That is really what the fear is," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
Facebook was not the only social media stock or fund taking a hit on Tuesday. Shares of Snap Inc fell 2.56 percent, while Twitter Inc shares tumbled 10.38 percent. The Global X Social Media ETF lost 0.9 percent. 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 116.36 points, or 0.47 percent, to 24,727.27, the S&P 500 gained 4.02 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,716.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 20.06 points, or 0.27 percent, to 7,364.30.
Oracle dropped 9.4 percent after the business software maker reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue. 
Financial stocks edged up 0.21 percent as investors awaited a near-certain interest rate hike at the end of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting on Wednesday. 
Market participants largely expect a total of three rate hikes this year, although some have not ruled out the possibility the U.S. central bank will hike four times.
"We are finally normalizing, after years we talked about the Fed holding it down and the market only going up because of the Fed. Now let's see what the market can do – can it stand on its own two legs?" said Saluzzi, referring to the low interest rate environment the Fed put into effect after the financial crisis. 
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.26 billion shares, compared with the 7.17 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days. 
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.28-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.26-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

UPDATE 2-Oil edges up on Middle East tensions, but soaring U.S. output still weighs - Reuters News
21-Mar-2018 03:46:52 PM
Saudi Crown Prince visits Washington
U.S., Saudi Arabia expected to put pressure on Iran
U.S. could reimpose sanctions against Tehran
Healthy demand also supports crude prices
But relentless rise in U.S. crude production caps gains
Adds comment, updates prices
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, March 21 (Reuters) - Oil prices edged up on Wednesday, lifted by tensions in the Middle East and healthy demand, although rising U.S. output continued to weigh on markets.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $63.69 a barrel at 0744 GMT, up 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their previous close.
Brent crude futures were at $67.56 per barrel, up 14 cents, or 0.2 percent.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday arrived in Washington for a state visit, raising speculation the United States could reimpose sanctions on Iran, following renewed criticism of the 2015 nuclear deal.
"The presence of the Saudi Crown Washington and his clear agenda to ramp up pressure on Iran, has for me, been the key driver...of oil, which rose strongly," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
Analysts also pointed to the nomination of Mike Pompeo as new U.S. Secretary of State as a risk to oil markets, given he fiercely opposed the 2015 pact as a member of Congress. 
"The nomination of Mike Pompeo for U.S. Secretary of State...raises the likelihood of oil trade disruptions," U.S. bank Citi said in a note.
Should the United States reimpose sanctions against Iran, energy consultancy FGE said that would likely result in a 250,000 to 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) drop in its exports by year-end.
Analysts also pointed to healthy economic growth and a weak dollar as oil price drivers.
In a sign of healthy demand, U.S. crude stocks fell by 2.7 million barrels in the week ended March 16 to 425.3 million, the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday. 
Official U.S. production and inventory data will be released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) later on Wednesday.
"The global economy is humming, and robust demand solidly underpins commodity prices," said Norbert Ruecker, head of macro and commodity Research at Swiss bank Julius Baer.
Despite this, he said seasonally low demand at the end of the northern hemisphere winter season meant he had "a rather cautious near-term outlook on commodities."
Looming over oil markets has been surging U.S. crude production which has risen by more than a fifth since mid-2016, to 10.38 million bpd, overtaking top exporter Saudi Arabia and putting the United States within reach of Russia's 11 million bpd.
"U.S. shale will continue to weigh on prices," Singapore-based Phillip Futures said in a note.
Still, some U.S. producers are holding back expansion in order to prevent a price crash.
"Larger players are holding back capital expenditures in an attempt to avoid past mistakes," said consultancy FGE.

PRECIOUS-Gold gains on dollar decline as market awaits Fed rate outlook - Reuters News
21-Mar-2018 04:01:25 PM
Fed seen raising rates, 2018 rate hike projections in focus
Gold down 4 pct from over 1-1/2-year high touched in Jan
Analysts see global political tensions supporting gold
(Updates prices)
By Eileen Soreng
March 21 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose on Wednesday as the dollar fell as investors await the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting this week for signs of the pace of monetary tightening, which could limit the demand for bullion going forward.
Spot gold was 0.4 percent higher at $1,315.84 per ounce at 0746 GMT. Prices fell to a nearly three-week low of $1,306.91 in the previous session.
U.S. gold futures for April delivery rose 0.27 percent to $1,315.40 per ounce.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, slipped 0.2 percent to 90.195 after climbing to 90.445 on Tuesday, its highest since March 1. 
With a 25 basis point interest rate hike seen as a done deal, investors will be on the lookout for whether the Fed forecasts four rate increases in 2018, instead of the median of three hikes in December's quarterly forecast.
"Dealers will be looking at forward guidance to determine the dollar's prospects, and therefore that of gold," said Alasdair Macleod, head of research with Toronto-based Goldmoney Inc.
The Fed will make an announcement on interest rates at 1800 GMT on Wednesday and new Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will hold his first news conference at 1830 GMT.
The expectations for a faster pace of U.S. rate hikes have caused gold to fall 4 percent from a 1-1/2-year high reached in January.
Higher U.S. interest rates reduces demand for gold for non-interest-bearing bullion.
Heightened geo-political tensions, inflation concerns, trade wars and runaway U.S. budget deficit spending should serve to counteract the well-expected Fed rate hike and keep the floor on gold prices intact, Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA said.
Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, holdings rose 1.26 percent, their best one-day percentage rise since Jan. 18, to 850.84 tonnes on Monday.
SPDR holdings, however, fell 0.04 percent on Tuesday. 
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to unveil up to $60 billion in import duties on Chinese goods by Friday. The move comes after Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminium earlier this month.
Investors are worried Trump's actions could escalate into a trade war if China and other countries retaliate with similar or harsher measures, threatening global growth.
Among other precious metals, both spot silver and platinum were up 0.5 percent, at $16.27 per ounce and $944.90 per ounce, respectively.
Palladium rose 0.2 percent at $980.50 per ounce.

GRAINS-Wheat near 1-month low as rains ease U.S. crop concerns - Reuters News
21-Mar-2018 11:52:24 AM
Wheat little changed, near Tuesday's weakest since Feb. 22
Corn ticks up after 5-session fall, soybeans up for 2nd day
Adds details, quotes
By Naveen Thukral
SINGAPORE, March 21 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat futures were largely unchanged on Wednesday, hovering near last session's one-month low as forecasts of more rains in U.S. southern Plains further eased concerns over drought-damage to the winter crop.
Corn rose as the market took a breather following five consecutive sessions of decline while soybeans rose for a second day.
The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade was unchanged at $4.53 a bushel by 0327 GMT. On Tuesday, prices dropped to a low of $4.50 a bushel, the weakest since Feb 22. 
Corn added 0.1 percent to $3.75 a bushel, having lost 4.4 percent in the past five sessions and soybeans rose 0.1 percent to $10.29-1/2 a bushel, having firmed 0.6 percent on Tuesday.
"We are seeing improved weather in the United States and Argentina," said one Singapore-based agricultural commodities trader.
"Soybean crop losses in Argentina have now been priced in and for wheat, there is no major global supply threat."
The wheat market is under pressure as rains fell across parched U.S. fields in the last few days. Some forecast models called for another round of moisture in the drought-hit southern Plains, where the hard red winter wheat crop is exiting dormancy and resuming spring growth.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) late on Monday rated 11 percent of top winter wheat producer Kansas in good-to-excellent condition, down from 12 percent a week earlier. Wheat ratings also declined in Texas.
The soybean market is focused on trade relations between the United States and China. 
U.S. agricultural exports could be at risk in any retaliation over tariffs implemented by the White House, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said on Monday.
Soybeans are the biggest U.S. agricultural export, followed by corn. China is by far the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans.
Late season rains will halt further deterioration of drought-hit Argentine soybean yields, setting the stage for an estimated crop of at least 40 million tonnes after being trounced earlier in the season by extremely dry weather, experts said on Tuesday.
The 2017/18 crop year started with soy harvest estimates in the 55 million tonne range. But the drought has parched wide areas of Argentina's normally fertile Pampas grains belt since November and scorched some soy and corn fields beyond repair.
Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT corn and soyoil futures on Tuesday, and net buyers of soybeans, wheat and soymeal, traders said. 

UPDATE 1-Indonesia wins appeal against EU over anti-dumping duty on biodiesel - Reuters News
21-Mar-2018 04:33:34 PM
Adds comment from Indonesia biodiesel association, context
JAKARTA, March 21 (Reuters) - Indonesia has won an appeal against the European Union in a dispute over the bloc's anti-dumping duty on biodiesel, the Ministry of Trade said in a statement on Wednesday.
The European Court of Justice, the EU's highest court, ruled that the bloc must do away with anti-dumping duties of between 8.8 percent to 23.3 percent on imports of Indonesian biodiesel products.
Indonesia is one of the world's largest exporters of palm oil-based biodiesel. 
"With the elimination of these duties, businesses can once again export biodiesel to the EU," said Oke Nurwan, director general of foreign trade at the Indonesian trade ministry. 
He added that the elimination of duties was valid from March 16, 2018. 
The Indonesia Biofuel Producers Association welcomed the ruling.
"We're asking producers to prepare exports soon," said Paulus Tjakrawan, vice chairman of the association. 
He declined to give an estimate on expected export volumes.
The EU court ruling reinforces a decision made by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) earlier this year, which said the EU needed to bring its measures into conformity with WTO agreements.
Indonesia also plans to challenge anti-subsidy duties in the United States in a U.S. court and at the WTO.
Indonesia has also been pushing domestic biodiesel consumption as part of an ambitious plan to develop its biofuels industry. It plans to expand biodiesel subsidies to cover palm-oil blended fuels for use by its huge mining sector in addition to the power sector.

USDA attaché sees Indonesian palm oil output rising in 2018/19 - Reuters News
21-Mar-2018 06:16:12 AM
March 20 (Reuters) - Following are selected highlights from a report issued by a U.S. Department of Agriculture attaché in Indonesia:
Palm oil production is expected to increase from 38.5 million tons in 2017/18 to 40.5 million tons in 2018/19. Exports and stocks are forecast to increase. Harvested area is revised for 2008-2017 based on analysis of seed sales and seed trade data. Soybean imports are forecast up slightly to 2.85 million tons for 2018/19.

USDA attaché sees China 2018/19 soybean imports at 100 million T - Reuters News
21-Mar-2018 03:09:01 AM
March 20 (Reuters) - Following are selected highlights from a report issued by a U.S. Department of Agriculture attaché in China - Peoples Republic of:
China is the largest oilseed importer in the world with total oilseed imports at 98.42 million tons (MMT) in MY16/17. Chinese total soybean imports hit another record at 93.5 MMT, absorbing 62.6 percent of total world exports, and 61.2 percent of total U.S. soybean exports. Post estimates this growing trend will continue and drive soybean imports to reach 97 MMT in MY17/18, and hit 100 MMT in MY18/19. Rising incomes, urbanization and the modernization of the domestic feed and livestock sectors will continue fostering Chinese consumption of oilseed products. The United States soybean exports to China are expected to face fierce competition from South American countries in MY17/18 and beyond. Despite a change in China's government policy in MY16/17 encouraging farmers to plant more soybeans, growth in China's oilseed production remains constrained by limited arable land and stagnant yield. Thus, China's oilseed production is estimated to rise modestly to 58.55 MMT in MY17/18 and forecast up slightly to 58.6 MMT in MY18/19. Since its implementation in MY16/17, USDA and U.S. exporters have actively worked to meet China's new exporter registration requirements for grain and oilseed (known as Decree 177). In January 2018, U.S. exporters for grain and oilseeds successfully completed the registration process.

WRAPUP 1-Powell's Fed likely to raise rates, may upgrade 2018 outlook - Reuters News
21-Mar-2018 01:00:00 PM
Financial markets focused on 2018 rate hike path
Fed policy statement due at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT)
By Jonathan Spicer
WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates at its first policy meeting under Chairman Jerome Powell and may signal more hikes are coming in response to tax cuts and government spending that could further stoke a robust U.S. economy. 
The U.S. central bank projected late last year that it would lift rates three times in 2018, but some investors believe the fiscal stimulus and recent hints of inflation pressures will push policymakers to add an additional increase to the mix. 
The Fed is scheduled to issue its latest policy statement at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT). Powell is due to hold a press conference half an hour later.
Fed officials have speculated in recent weeks that the stimulus could drive more Americans into an already tight labor market and lift inflation to the central bank's 2 percent target, or much above that level if the economy gets too hot.
Yet analysts are split over whether the Fed, which is wary of an early misstep under its new leadership, will raise policy tightening expectations until more price pressures are clearly evident, especially given outside risks to the economy such as a possible global trade war.
"A prudent institution would probably give more weight to the facts, at least for the moment," Roberto Perli, a former Fed economist who is now a partner at Cornerstone Macro, wrote in a note predicting the Fed would stick with three projected rate increases for this year. 
The Fed's drive to stimulate the world's largest economy in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession is drawing to a close. It raised its benchmark overnight lending rate three times last year, to a range of 1.25 to 1.50 percent, as joblessness fell and economic growth accelerated. It is expected to raise rates by another 25 basis points on Wednesday.
With futures markets anticipating another increase in June, Powell's Fed could leave its rate outlook unchanged until then to see how the economy absorbs the $1.8 trillion in stimulus expected from the Trump administration tax cuts and planned spending. 

While recent home sales and retail spending data have been on the weak side, the overall economic picture has brightened this year. Inflation has strengthened after remaining below the Fed's target for more than five years, and there have been more hints of wage gains. 
The central bank is expected on Wednesday to boost its economic growth forecasts for the next few years, and could project that the unemployment rate will fall well below the current 4.1 percent, which is seen as a low but stable level. 
The blockbuster U.S. jobs report for February could further convince Powell and his colleagues that the Fed's stated "gradual" rate hike path could carry on longer than previously thought. A sign of this would be a rise in the Fed's longer-term, or neutral, expected policy rate, currently at 2.8 percent.
Powell, who took over from former Fed chief Janet Yellen in early February, triggered a brief global market selloff when he told U.S. lawmakers late last month that he had grown more confident in the economic outlook. Yet worries over a new hawkish central bank are likely overblown given Powell's cautious, consensus-building approach. 
Seven of the 15 Fed policymakers who will update their forecasts on Wednesday have recently indicated the fiscal stimulus could boost their expectations for the economy, rate hikes, or for both, according to an analysis of public statements.
New York Fed President William Dudley, one of the most influential policymakers, said four rate increases this year would still be considered "gradual," noting that fiscal policy is turning "quite stimulative."
The comments suggested a shift "towards a potentially faster pace of tightening ... particularly with tax cuts now implemented and with an additional fiscal boost from federal spending arriving this year," Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a note predicting that the Fed would signal on Wednesday that rates will rise four times this year.

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