Oil prices rise on strong demand, uncertainty over Syria conflict-SapForex24

Oil prices rose on Monday, supported by strong demand and uncertainty over the conflict in Syria, although another run-up in U.S. drilling activity kept a lid on gains.

Brent Crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $55.49 per barrel at 0701 GMT, up 25 cents, or 0.45 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 25 cents, or 0.46 percent, at $52.48 a barrel.

ANZ bank said that strong oil demand and “an unsettled global backdrop (is) leaving the market very finely balanced.”

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However, another increase in U.S. oil drilling – for the 12th straight week and taking the count to 672 rigs, which is the highest since August 2015 – kept markets from breaking last week’s one-month highs of over $56 per barrel.

U.S. bank Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) said after the rig data release that year-on-year U.S. oil production “would rise by 215,000 barrels per day in 2017” once a backlog of production waiting to be brought back online was taken into account.

The soaring U.S. output contrasts with a supply cut led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which hopes to prop up prices by reducing supplies in the first half of 2017 – and maybe beyond.

“The U.S. rig count continues to soar and we are close to a two-year high on that. Judging by the relative success of the OPEC agreement keeping prices propped up, I don’t see a reason for that to decline in the near future,” said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker at Freight Services International (FIS) in Dubai.

“Reduced OPEC volumes and stronger U.S. output will result in a deeper discount for U.S. crude and support greater exports from the U.S. to Asia over the coming months,” BMI Research said. It added, though, that in terms of overall volumes, “the U.S. will remain a small player in Asia as OPEC actively protects its market share.”

Beyond the United States, other producers are also benefiting from OPEC’s supply cuts and tighter market.

Brazil’s oil exports have soared 65 percent since February 2016, to a record of more than 1.46 million bpd, according to government data obtained by Reuters.

Consultancy Wood Mackenzie estimates Brazil oil exports will hit an average of nearly 1 million bpd for the whole of 2017, up from 798,000 bpd last year.

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Forex – GBP/USD falls after U.K. data disappoints-SapForex24

The pound fell against the U.S. dollar on Friday, after the release of disappointing U.K. manufacturing production data, while investors awaited a key report on U.S. employment due later in the day.

GBP/USD hit 1.2430 during European morning trade, the pair’s lowest since Wednesday; the pair subsequently consolidated at 1.2432, shedding 0.29%.
Cable was likely to find support at 1.2401, the low of March 30 and resistance at 1.2508, Thursday’s high.

The U.K. Office for National Statistics said manufacturing production fell 0.1% in February, compared to expectations for a gain of 0.2% and following a decline of 1.0% in the previous month.

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On an annualized basis, manufacturing production increased by 3.3% in February, below forecasts for a 3.9% advance.

The report also showed that industrial production fell 0.7% in February, compared to forecasts for a 0.2% increase.

Meanwhile, market participants were looking ahead to the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, due later Friday, a day after the release of upbeat jobless claims data.

Separately, markets were jittery after the U.S. launched cruise missiles at an airbase in Syria, sparking concerns of an escalation in the Syrian civil war.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he ordered missile strikes against a Syrian airfield from which a deadly chemical weapons attack was launched.

The air strike came during a two-day summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping which, on Thursday, had a strong focus on trade and North Korea’s military program.

Trump had warned that he would be ready to act unilaterally to address North Korea’s nuclear program if China does not step up to help in the matter.
Sterling was lower against the euro, with EUR/GBP rising 0.21% to 0.8555.

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Forex – Dollar holds onto modest gains with Brexit process in focus- SapForex24

The dollar held onto modest against other major currencies on Wednesday, still supported by the previous session’s strong U.S. data and as investors focuses on the official beginning of the Brexit process set for later in the day.

EUR/USD slipped 0.26% to 1.0785, the lowest since March 24.
The U.S. Consumer Board said its consumer confidence index rose to a nerly 17-year high of 125.6 in March from 116.1 the previous month, far above expectations of a reading of 114.

Market participants were looking ahead to U.S. data on pending home sales, due later in the day.

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The greenback was also boosted after Chicago Federal Bank President Charles Evans and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan on Monday suggested that the U.S. central bank will continue its monetary tightening cycle.

Elsewhere, GBP/USD was little changed at 1.2444, as investors awaited British Prime Minister Theresa May’s move later on Wednesday to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and formally begin the two year process of withdrawing from the EU.

USD/JPY edged down 0.10% to 111.07, while USD/CHF added 0.08% to 0.9934.
The Australian dollar was stronger, with AUD/USD up 0.29% at 0.7655 and with NZD/USD little changed at 0.7019.

Meanwhile, USD/CAD fell 0.16% to trade at 1.3362.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.14% at 99.67, the highest since last Friday.

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Forex – Dollar edges higher as focus turns to U.S. politics-SapForex24

The dollar edged higher against other major currencies on Thursday, as investors turned to fresh developments in U.S. politics amid ongoing uncertainty over Donald Trump’s ability to honor his campaign promises.

EUR/USD slipped 0.21% to 1.0772, pulling away from Wednesday’s six-week high of 1.0825.

Investors eyeing a key vote on U.S. President Donald Trump’s healthcare bill scheduled later in the day.

Market participants were especially concerned about Trump’s ability to gather enough support for his healthcare bill – set to replace Obamacare and one of his key campaign pledges.

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Markets were also jittery after five people, including a police officer and one man believed to be the attacker, were killed on Wednesday in an attack that London police are calling a “terrorist incident.”

The suspect mowed down pedestrians in a vehicle on Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing the officer outside the Houses of Parliament and being shot and killed.

Elsewhere, GBP/USD edged up 0.12% to 1.2503, just off a one-month peak of 1.2528 hit earlier in the session after the U.K. Office for National Statistics said retail sales increased by 1.4% in February, compared to expectations for a 0.4% rise.
Year-on-year, retail sales climbed 3.7% last month, compared to forecasts for a 2.6% gain.

Core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales and fuel, increased by 1.3% in February, confounding expectations for a 0.4% rise.

USD/JPY slipped 0.10% to trade at 111.04, still close to a four-month low of 110.73 hit on Wednesday, while USD/CHF rose 0.27% to 0.9939.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were weaker, with AUD/USD down 0.68% at 0.7625 and with NZD/USD shedding 0.16% to 0.7034.

Meanwhile, USD/CAD added 0.13% to trade at 1.3345.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.13% at 99.61, off the previous session’s six-week low of 99.34.

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