Morning briefing: Oil slides to lowest since 2003 as Iran sanctions are lifted

GN Bureau | January 18, 2016



Oil prices hit their lowest since 2003 in early trading on Monday, as the market braced for a jump in Iranian exports after the lifting of sanctions against the country at the weekend. Iran is ready to increase its crude exports by 500,000 bpd, its deputy oil minister said on Sunday. International Brent crude LCOc1 fell to $27.67 a barrel early on Monday, its lowest since 2003, before recovering to $28.25 by 0103 GMT, still down more than 2 percent from their settlement on Friday. US crude CLc1 was down 58 cents at $28.84 a barrel after hitting a 2003 low of $28.36 earlier in the session. "The lifting of sanctions on Iran should see further downward pressure on oil and commodities more broadly in the short term," ANZ said on Monday. "Iran's likely strategy in offering discounts to entice customers could see further downward pressure on prices in the near term," it added. Iran's potential new exports come at a time when global markets are already reeling from a chronic oversupply as producers pump a million barrels or more of crude every day in excess of demand, pulling down crude prices by over 75 percent since mid-2014 and by over a quarter since the start of 2016.

Asian shares skid to 2011 levels as oil slump intensifies
Asian shares slid to their lowest levels since late 2011 on Monday after weak U.S. economic data and massive falls in oil prices stoked further worries about a global economic downturn. Oil prices fell as much as 4 percent on Monday, with international benchmark Brent futures LCOc1 falling below $28 per barrel LCOc1, touching their lowest level since 2003. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 1.0 percent in early trade, extending its fall so far this month to over 11 percent. Japan's Nikkei .N225 tumbled as much as 2.8 percent to a one-year low. It has lost 20 percent from its peak hit in June, meeting a common definition of a bear market. In China, the Shanghai Composite index .SSEC fell nearly 2 percent, piercing through intraday lows last seen in August when China's markets nosedived. On Wall Street, S&P 500 .SPX hit a 15-month low on Friday, ahead of a market holiday on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Outside the United States, the economic outlook appeared even bleaker, with the energy and raw material sector hit the hardest as China's massive investment-led economy slows down. China will start implementing a reserve requirement ratio (RRR) to some banks involved in the offshore yuan market, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement on Monday.

Wipro Q3 net profit up 1.8% to Rs 2,234 cr
India’s third largest IT services company Wipro witnessed 1.8 per cent growth in its net profit for the third quarter of the financial year 2015-2016. The company’s consolidated net profit stood at Rs 2,234 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2015 as against Rs 2,192 crore in the corresponding quarter last year. Operating margins, calculated as sales minus costs, stood at 20.2%, which was impacted marginally due to spending on backup plans during the Chennai floods. Total Income of the company for the October-December period was Rs 12,951.60 crore as against Rs 12,085.10 crore in the corresponding quarter last year, registering a growth of 7.17 per cent. The company’s flagship IT services profit stood at around Rs 2,482 crore while the IT services revenue was Rs 12, 314 crore. The IT services margin for the quarter was 20.2 per cent. In dollar terms the company’s net profit stood at $338 million, up 2 per cent. IT Services segment revenue was $1,838.3 million, a sequential increase of 0.3 per cent.

Karunanidhi out in court today to earn political milege
DMK president M Karunanidhi today turned the criminal defamation proceedings initiated against him by Tamil Nadu government into a high-voltage media event by appearing in person at a court in Chennai. He could have sought exemption from personal appearance but the veteran DMK leader, who is wheelchair-bound, came to the principal sessions court to respond to charges. Karunanidhi came to the court accompanied by daughter Kanimozhi and son Stalin.

DMK's intentions to cash in on the court case were made clear by legal wing secretary R Girirajan. Yesterday, he had issued a circular exhorting all party lawyers to be present in court 'in coat and gown' when their leader makes his appearance. Karunanidhi's outing is an opportunity for the DMK to draw attention to, what it describes as, the persecution of the ruling party's critics and political rivals. Tamil Nadu goes to polls this year.

The complaint relates to a statement by the former chief minister demanding to know what chief minister J Jayalalitha had achieved in her four years in power. Karunanudhi has already said that the statement was merely a reiteration of what Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan had asked in its November 25, 2015 issue.

NIA likely to approach court for polygraph test on Gurdaspur SP

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is most likely to approach court on Monday for conducting polygraph test on Gurdaspur Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, who is under scanner over discrepancies in his statements regarding his visit to the holy shrine. According to reports, the NIA is still not satisfied with the replies of Gurdaspur SP and wants him to undergo a polygraph test. While there is a lapse between the time Salwinder says he visited the shrine and that given by the shrine head, the Gurdaspur SP has also failed to explain why it took him nearly three hours to cover a 10 km distance from the shrine to the spot from where he was abducted by the Pathankot attackers. The NIA had issued summons to Salwinder Singh, who is at present Assistant Commandant of 75th battalion of Punjab Armed Police, to appear before the agency for questioning as there were some discrepancies in his statement to the NIA and Punjab Police.

NIA gets nod to record statement of Headley’s wife Faiza Outalha
Moroccan authorities are believed to have agreed to allow a team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to visit the country and record the statement of David Coleman Headley's estranged wife Faiza Outalha, provided her testimony is not used against her by India, reports Economic Times. According to government sources, in a reply to New Delhi's letter rogatory (LR), the north African country has laid out some other conditions, including raising the question of 'privilege communication' between a husband and wife under the Indian laws, for allowing Indian investigators meet Outalha. Headley, a US citizen, has recently made an offer to become an approver in the case being investigated by the Mumbai police. Both NIA and Mumbai police are probing the 26/11 attacks with the federal agency registering a separate FIR after the arrest of Headley in 2009 to probe a larger conspiracy.

World tennis hit by match-fixing reports, authorities back integrity unit
World tennis was rocked on Monday by allegations that the game's authorities have failed to deal with widespread match-fixing, just as the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, kicked off in Melbourne. Tennis authorities rejected reports by the BBC and online BuzzFeed News, which said 16 players ranked in the top 50 had been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade. The reports said the TIU, set up to police illegal activities in the sport, either failed to act upon information that identified suspicious behaviour amongst players, or impose any sanctions. All of the players, including winners of Grand Slam titles, were allowed to continue competing, while eight were playing in the Australian Open, the media reports added.

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