Oil Prices Fall As Investors Bet On Federal Reserve’s Rate Decision

Taiwo Adekeye, FMVA

March 21, 2024

Oil prices dropped on Wednesday as the U.S. Federal Reserve maintained interest rates in the 5.25% to 5.50% range as the ongoing global demand worries persisted. Brent crude futures for May was down by 1.64% closing at $85.95 a barrel. While U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures for April delivery, which expire on Wednesday, dipped by 2.14% closing at $81.68.

India: India’s Feb Russian oil imports edged up from Jan

India’s imports of Russian oil in February slightly increased compared to January, reversing the declines observed in the previous two months. Refiners received several shipments of Russian light sweet Sokol grade during this period. Since the West imposed sanctions on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, India, the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer, has significantly increased its intake of Russian oil. In February, Indian refiners imported 1.51 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian oil, a rise of about 2.8% from January, about 12.2% lower than the corresponding month a year ago.

China:  China Maintains Benchmark Lending Rate

China maintained its benchmark lending rates unchanged at a monthly fixing on Wednesday, following the central bank’s decision to keep a key policy rate steady the previous week amidst some indications of improvement in the broader economy. The one-year loan prime rate (LPR) was kept at 3.45%, while the five-year LPR was unchanged at 3.95%. China’s factory output and retail sales beat expectations in the January-February period, property investment in China fell 9% year-on-year in the first two months of 2024, after a sharp 24% fall in December.

South Africa: South African retail sales declined by 2.1% Year-on-Year in January

South African retail sales fell by 2.1% year-on-year in January after a revised 3.2% increase in December, while on a month-on-month basis, sales decreased 3.2%. South Africa’s rand rose against the dollar on Wednesday ahead of an interest rate decision by the Federal Reserve. South Africa’s rand rose against the dollar on Wednesday ahead of an interest rate decision by the Federal Reserve. The Rand traded at 18.8050 against the dollar, about 0.6% stronger than its previous close while the South Africa’s benchmark 2030 government bond was stronger, with the yield down 5.5 basis points at 10.425%.

Nigeria: CBN clears $7bn forex backlogs, external reserves surges by $993 million

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has recently fulfilled a $1.5 billion payment, settling obligations to bank customers and effectively eliminating the remaining balance of the foreign exchange (FX) backlog. There was a significant increase in external reserves, rising by $993 million to $34.11 billion as of March 7, 2024, the highest level in eight months. The month-on-month increase was propelled by a significant uptick in remittance payments from Nigerians living abroad, along with increased acquisitions of domestic assets, such as government debt securities, by foreign investors.