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Author: Nick Cunningham

Did Oil Markets Overreact To The Saudi Purge?

Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince led a massive purge over the weekend, ousting around a dozen royal cousins in a bid to consolidate power. The removal and detentions of so many members of the royal family were ostensibly the outgrowth of an anti-corruption campaign, but the actions put the top security institutions under the control of the king and the crown prince after having been distributed among different family factions for decades. In essence, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (aka, MBS) has ended decades of tradition and has consolidated…

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Can $60 Oil Last?

Brent is back at $60 for the first time in more than two years, but the big question is: Can crude hold onto its gains? Oil prices firmed up in recent weeks, but held back from key resistance points—roughly $60 per barrel for Brent, and around $55 per barrel for WTI. Oil traders were reluctant to test the upper limits of the “shale band” at $60, a threshold that has repeatedly forced traders to liquidate their bullish bets or get burned. Top analysts argue that it would take something really significant to allow oil to break above…

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The Rise Of The Petroyuan

China is aiming to overthrow the U.S. dollar as the currency of choice for the oil market, a move that could have far-reaching consequences. Since the 1970s, the oil trade has almost entirely been conducted in U.S. dollars, even when buyers and producers are not American. The ramifications of the dollar-denominated oil trade are immense: Because oil is priced in dollars, there is huge demand for dollars, lending the U.S. economic and strategic power.   Beijing hopes to challenge the dollar by setting up a futures market with its own currency,…

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Can Oil Prices Go Above $60?

Oil prices flirted with $60 per barrel a few weeks ago, but stopped short of that key psychological threshold and quickly retreated. What will it take to break above $60? Brent hit $59.77 per barrel on September 26, but was back to $55 per barrel a few days later. There are many reasons why oil prices are struggling to break above $60 even though OPEC continues to hold back about 1 million barrels of supply per day and tensions in the Middle East have risen sharply. For example, oil inventories are declining, but storage remains elevated. Also,…

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The 5 Countries That Could Push Oil Prices Up

Oil prices appear to be stuck in the $50s per barrel, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t serious supply risks to the market. An unexpected disruption could occur at any moment, as has happened in the past, leading to a sudden and sharp jump in prices. Geopolitical tension has been largely irrelevant since the collapse of oil prices in 2014, but it’s making a return now that cracks have emerged in some key oil-producing nations. The threat of an outage will carry more weight as the oil market tightens. “The ‘Fragile Five’ petrostates—Iran,…

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Trump’s Iran Decision Haunts Big Oil

United States President Donald Trump’s decision to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal probably won’t have an immediate impact on oil prices, but the decision could plant the seeds of problems further down the road. That is because nothing happens right away—Trump kicked the decision to Congress. But he still significantly increases confrontation with Tehran, and is somewhat backing himself into a corner if Congress does nothing, or if Iran doesn’t offer concessions regarding its missile program—two scenarios…

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Iraq Seizes Kirkuk, Briefly Knocks 350,000 Bpd Offline

Oil prices spiked on Monday after Iraqi forces seized the oil fields around Kirkuk, which had largely been under Kurdish control since 2014. There were conflicting reports as of Monday, but oil supplies from the region may have been disrupted, although perhaps only temporarily. The military maneuver by Iraqi forces comes as retaliation for the Kurdish independence vote staged a few weeks ago, a move condemned by Baghdad, as well as the governments of Turkey and Iran, both of which have their own Kurdish populations. Iran closed border crossings,…

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IEA: Oil Prices To Hit A Ceiling In 2018

The global oil market continues to make progress, but the ongoing production gains from non-OPEC countries will probably act as a “the ceiling for aspirations of higher oil prices” in 2018, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. In its monthly Oil Market Report published Thursday, the IEA cataloged the long list of indicators that suggests the oil market has made huge strides this year towards rebalancing. In the second and the third quarter, the global supply/demand balance was in a deficit, putting total inventories…

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Goldman Sachs: Inventory Drawdowns Will Not Continue

The September oil price rally was predicated on improving oil market fundamentals, bolstering confidence that the rebalancing process was accelerating. But the inventory declines reported in the third quarter might be “as good as it gets,” with inventories returning to small increases next year, according to a new report from Goldman Sachs. The third quarter appeared to finally be the turning point for an oil market suffering from a more than three-year downturn. The OPEC deal was finally bearing fruit—inventories started posting…

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OPEC To Take Drastic Action Despite Shale Slowdown

WTI recently dipped below $50 per barrel for the first time in a month, erasing the strong September rally. It’s no coincidence that after two weeks of price declines, OPEC has tried to talk up the oil market again, hinting that more drastic action could be forthcoming. Echoing the world’s top central bankers, OPEC’s Secretary General said that the oil cartel might need to take “extraordinary” measures to balance the oil market next year. “There is a growing consensus that, number one, the re-balancing process…

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