x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

OPEC's earnings to surge with a weaker dollar

Crude oil is only one of several commodities, including cotton and silver, that rallied as global growth slowed.

Cotton is harvested in New South Wales, Australia.
Cotton is harvested in New South Wales, Australia.

OPEC's export earnings are expected to jump by a third, or US$177 billion (Dh650.06bn) this year, according to the latest figures from a US government agency.

Crude oil is just one of several commodities to have rallied in the face of slow global growth, partly driven by the decline in the value of the dollar and expectations of growing inflation. These factors make assets such as oil, gold, cotton and sugar more attractive to investors, since they become cheaper in other currencies and are believed to provide protection against rising prices.

OPEC earned $613bn in the first 10 months of this year, against $452bn a year earlier and is already far above its total earnings last year of $570bn, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Net oil export revenues are projected to end the year higher at $748bn, equivalent to a jump of $177bn on last year, the figures showed.

Oil traded at two-year highs this month, hitting $87.22 per barrel. Barclays Capital has forecast that oil prices will reach $90 before the year is out and top $100 per barrel next year.

In Abu Dhabi, which is expected to export about 700 million barrels of oil this year, higher prices translate into about $9bn of extra cash.

The EIA also raised its estimate for OPEC's oil income next year to $840bn, from a previous forecast of $805bn.

"Overall it's a win-win situation and I expect OPEC revenues to go higher compared to last year," said John Sfakianakis, the chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi. "My view is that the dollar will continue to strengthen in coming weeks and break the $1.30 barrier against the euro in 2011, which will give a boost to the confidence in the region."

Gold has also benefited from the shift in speculative capital into commodities. It rallied to an all-time nominal high of $1,424.10 a troy ounce this month before slipping to $1,337.10 an ounce this week.

"Gold has gone up significantly because it is seen as a safe haven in times of dollar volatility," said Eric Hasham, the chief executive of the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange.

Gold volumes on the Dubai exchange have doubled so far this year, reaching 4 tonnes a day from 2 tonnes a day at the start of the year.

"The more movement in the price [of a commodity], the more volume activity from investors and the more liquid we become, which makes us more successful," said Mr Hasham.

Elsewhere, precious metals reached multi-year highs as investors turned to silver and palladium.

Silver, which is often overshadowed by gold, has been one of the best performers in the market, reaching a 30-year peak and hitting $29 per ounce during intraday trading on November 9. It slipped to $25.17 per ounce yesterday.

Silver, which is gaining more interest from investors aside from its main industrial use, has gained 49.3 per cent year to date - the second largest commodity gain after cotton.

Palladium has gained 53.9 per cent so far this year, hitting $740.50 a troy ounce at its peak on November 9.

Although this year has been volatile for agricultural commodities, soft commodities have outperformed the rest of the market. In the past month, cotton hit 15-year highs to go above $1 a pound, sugar has risen to 30-year peaks of 33.32 cents a pound and coffee also rallied, with Arabica gaining 4.4 per cent to a 13-year high of $2.20 a pound in the past month.

 

fhalime@thenational.ae