ON MONDAY AMERICA, the world’s biggest producer of crude, found itself in an unusual situation: its oil was less than worthless. The price of the benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures contract crashed into negative territory for the first time in its history. The slide is the result of both global phenomena and local conditions. Around the world the supply of oil far exceeds demand for it, as governments try to limit the spread of covid-19. Citizens are no longer driving to work; planes remain on the ground. Steps to restrain production and support prices have been grand in scope but so far limited in effect.
On April 12th the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies agreed to cut 9.7m barrels a day from the market in May and June, a record and equivalent to about 10% of global supply. However, even assuming that members of the alliance stick to the deal, which history suggests they may not, demand is already plunging further. The International Energy Agency expects demand may sink by 29m barrels a day this month.
This mismatch is a particular problem for landlocked American production. In March and April American producers continued to pump, even as refineries refused their oil and storage tanks filled quickly. April 21st is the last trading day for oil to be delivered in May to Cushing, Oklahoma, the physical hub for futures traded in New York. The plunge in WTI on April 20th reflected the panicked realisation that oil may have nowhere to go.
Not every oil producer faces so acute a problem. The international benchmark, Brent crude, which is produced in the North Sea and can more easily be placed in tankers, has fallen steeply, but not as far as WTI (see chart). Indeed tanker rates have soared as producers and traders seek to fill ships with crude. Spot charter rates for crude tankers in early April topped $200,000 a day, according to Morgan Stanley, compared with about $40,000 a day last year. Such rates reflect some traders’ bet that they can wait out the price slump at sea.
In the meantime, many shale companies will feel the pain, despite the best efforts of Donald Trump. America’s president helped broker the OPEC deal and insisted last week that the industry would recover “far faster” than anticipated. Mr Trump is now reportedly weighing a plan to pay frackers to keep their oil below ground. That idea may win him support in Texas and North Dakota, but Congress is unlikely to approve it. The legislature already rejected an earlier proposal to buy American crude for the country’s strategic petroleum reserve.
More companies may keep their oil below ground, whether Mr Trump pays them or not. Since the crisis began Canada, Iraq and Venezuela have accounted for the majority of production shut-ins, according to Rystad Energy, a data firm and consultancy. Producers often continue to operate at a loss rather than halt output, as it can be costly to restart operations and a shut reservoir may be damaged permanently. Shale operators have been loth to accept that fate. Soon they may have no choice.
The US will need to spend trillions more as economy takes until 2022 to fully recover: CNBC survey – CNBC
The economy could take one to two years to rebound to full strength and the Federal Reserve and Congress, having already committed historic sums to fight the coronavirus pandemic, will have to commit trillions more, according to respondents to the CNBC Fed Survey.
With the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet already at an unprecedented $6.45 trillion, the 36 respondents see it rising on average to $9.8 trillion. The additional trillions will be added by the end of the current quarter, the respondents expect. Congress, having already committed about $2.5 trillion, is seen putting in an additional $2 trillion.
“My guess is that the virus itself will largely disappear within a year, but that the structural social and economic impacts will be with us much longer,” John Kattar, chief investment officer at Ardent Asset Management, wrote in response to the survey.
Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, said, “The policy response has been appropriate, but policy takes time to work its way into the economy and targeted sectors. … Many small businesses stand at risk.”
Despite the massive relief, respondents still see the unemployment rate rising to 19%, hitting that level in August. It’s expected to decline only gradually, to 11% by December and to 7% by the end of 2021. That would leave it at about double the rate before the crisis.
Second quarter of 2022
“With spiking unemployment and rising business closures … the prospects of a sharp rebound (is) far outweighed by the more realistic prospect of a longer-term structural disruption,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel.
A 33% plurality believes the economy won’t be fully restored until the second quarter of 2022. But 19% believe it will be back by year-end and another 19% believe it can happen even earlier, highlighting a wide range of views about the speed and strength of a recovery.
“During the pandemic, production and consumption have been largely deferred and not lost,” wrote Rob Morgan, director of market strategy at US Energy Advisors. “This leads me to believe the economy will experience a V-shaped recovery beginning in the third quarter 2020.”
On average, respondents see gross domestic product falling by 24% this quarter, followed by a rebound of 4.7% in the third quarter and another strong quarter in the fourth. It won’t be enough to make back the losses in the first half. For the full year, GDP is forecast to decline by 5%.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said a vaccine is essential for the economy to gain traction. “Until then, any recovery will remain something of a slog, characterized by halting growth and high single-digit unemployment. And even then, the economy won’t be in full swing and fully recovered until mid-decade.”
The Fed funds rate is seen remaining at zero for the rest of the year and rise to 1.9% in 2021. The Federal Reserve concludes its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. Answers for CNBC’s Fed Survey from investors and economists were collected Thursday to Saturday.
The S&P is forecast to finish lower on the year at 2,844 than Monday’s close, and rise to 3,141 next year for a 9% gain by the end of 2021.
“I think the risk markets are anticipating a faster return to normalized economic conditions than we are likely to see,” says John Ryding, chief economic advisor at Brean Capital LLC.
Among the risks: Respondents place a 61% probability on a second round of contagion in the fall and winter.
White House reportedly considering another round of stimulus checks – Atlanta Journal Constitution
As the U.S. economy slowly reopens, Americans across the country are still grappling with job loss, furloughs and economic uncertainty. To combat the continued financial struggles some are facing, a White House official says the administration is “studying carefully” another $1,200 payment to citizens.
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told the media the administration is determining whether to provide those who qualify another round of stimulus checks, according to NBC News reporter Geoff Bennett. The additional financial support could be included in a phase 4 deal.
No word on when the package would be presented the House, but, with the virus still looming, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the media Tuesday that the House will no longer come back next week after speaking to House physician, according to a tweet by Politico congressional reporter Sarah Ferris.
“We made a judgment that we will not come back next week,” Hoyer told reporters.
While the new stimulus checks are being considered, some Americans have not yet received the first round of checks. The IRS began cutting stimulus checks in mid-April. As of this week, about 90 million people have seen the economic bump in their accounts, according to economic news site Market Watch.
The hope is that the checks, which average about $1,200 a piece, will encourage spending and quell the financial pressure to pay essential bills as the COVID-19’s impact has shuttered manufacturing plants, retail stores and limited business hours for dozens of companies.
The IRS had distributed about 88.1 million stimulus checks as of April 17 and paid out $157.96 billion, according to statistics released April 24. That’s more than half of the $290 billion put aside for direct payments to individuals in the $2.2 trillion bill called the CARES Act.
Consumer confidence is still low
The Conference Board Tuesday reported that its consumer confidence index tumbled in the month of April, as millions lost their jobs and others feared for the current and future work conditions.
The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index plunged to a reading of 86.9, down from 118.8 in March. The index is composed of consumers’ assessment of present conditions and expectations about the future.
The present conditions index dropped from 166.7, to 76.4, a 90-point drop that was the largest on record. The expectations index, based on the future outlook, improved slightly from 86.8 in March to 93.8 in April.
The numbers in the present conditions index “reflects the sharp contraction in economic activity and surge in unemployment claims,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.
Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics, said the confidence declines were worrisome because “consumers’ downbeat views about future income prospects can restrain consumer spending and the overall economy.”
Consumers drive about 70% of all economic activity in the U.S.
Many economists believe the country has already entered a recession that will be the largest economic disruption since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Goldman Sachs explains why stocks can keep rising even as a record-sized recession beckons – Business Insider
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- Markets may continue to look past negative coronavirus news, especially if projections continue to show that the economy is expected to rebound after the pandemic, a Monday note from Goldman Sachs said.
- An analysis of GDP forecasts from the bank found that investors tended to discount the next two years of macroeconomic performance.
- Thus, metrics that focus only on growth over the next year “will overstate current valuations, given the large rebound expected beyond this year,” Zach Pandl, a cohead of global FX and EM strategy, wrote in the note.
- Read more on Business Insider.
Markets may continue to look past negative coronavirus news, especially if projections continue to show that the economy is expected to rebound after the pandemic, according to Goldman Sachs.
An analysis by the bank using changes to gross-domestic-product forecasts found that investors typically discounted at least the next two years of macroeconomic performance, a Monday note said.
That means that metrics that focus only on growth over the next year — such as multiples based on 12-month earnings expectations — “will overstate current valuations, given the large rebound expected beyond this year,” Zach Pandl, a cohead of global foreign-exchange and emerging-markets strategy, wrote in the note.
While the coronavirus-induced recession is set to be the deepest contraction in modern history, it’s also likely to be the shortest, Pandl said. Many economists expect that, after a dip in 2020, GDP will rebound in 2021 and 2022. By early April, consensus GDP forecasts incorporated a virus hit, down 4% this year. But forecasts are for 4% growth in 2021 and 3% in 2022 — an unusual pattern, Pandl said.
That means that more disappointing data in the near term may not weigh heavily on markets, as activity is expected to snap back “relatively quickly,” Pandl wrote. “The depth of the downturn matters much less than the duration of the recovery,” he said.
Goldman’s analysis came amid a stock-market recovery from March 23 lows. As US states weigh relaxing strict lockdown measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, stocks have slowly gained on optimism that the economy will soon reopen. From March 23 to Monday’s close, the S&P 500 gained about 29%, but it was down about 15% from all-time highs in February.
Still, many economists disagree that any rebound after the coronavirus pandemic will be a quick one. Instead of the sharp V-shaped recovery that Goldman is suggesting, many expect a rebound to take a softer U shape.
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