Week ahead: OPEC+ meets as Delta variant puts pressure on oil markets

Week Ahead

OPEC-JMMC August meetings, pushed back after July’s tough negotiations, take place this week. Traders will look to the cartel for a response to potential dents to demand recovery caused by rising Delta variant numbers worldwide.

Elsewhere, UK Q2 GDP figures are released on hopes of strong growth while US CPI inflation is in focus too with July’s stats coming this week.

It’s fair to say July was a bit of a tense month for OPEC and its allies. It will be hoping to avoid further conflicts when it meets on Thursday this week.

The Cartel has been doing its best to not go overboard with production tapering. Given the relative strength of prices, despite last week’s wobble, its efforts to curb output to protect prices have been broadly successful.

Come July’s meeting, fractures began to appear in the OPEC façade. It’s always a balancing act when its members and allies get together in order to weigh each individual member state’s interests. Oil production is an integral part of all their economies after all. In this case, the UAE was pushing hard to lighten restrictions and redress base levels – something which Saudi Arabia was resisting.

That’s all spilt milk under the bridge now. A deal was reached, after delayed and reorganise meetings and hectic negotiations on both sides. The stoppers have been loosened. New baselines were awarded to members, including chief agitator the UAE, at the eventual outcome.

An extra 400,000 bpd will be added to OPEC+ production monthly volumes from August onwards. That should bring production up to about 2m bpd by the end of 2022. OPEC also confirmed it had extended its production cut deal until April 2022.

This month’s meeting, however, takes on a different hue as rising Delta variant COVID cases continue to mount worldwide. That could majorly impact demand recovery, and thus instigate some kind of retooling to OPEC+’s plans going forward.

A slowdown in Chinese manufacturing could also affect OPEC’s thinking. China is the world’s largest crude importer, so if less oil is needed to fuel its factories then prices could drop as markets recalibrate to lowered Chinese crude imports.

Whatever happens, OPEC will no doubt be extremely keen to avoid any fortnight-long negotiations as happened in July. Either way, Thursday’s meetings will be an interesting watch.

This week also sees the publishing of the UK’s preliminary Q2 growth figures.

Strong vaccine rollout coupled with dropping COVID cases are expected to have supported growth in Q2, following the UK’s1.6% contraction in Q1. Higher consumer spending is likely to be the main growth engine, however, accounting for roughly 70% of gross domestic product between May-July.

So, what are the forecasts? The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) believes Q2 growth will clock in at 4.1% in 2021’s second quarter.

“The UK economy is in a temporary sweet spot with the boost from the release of pent-up demand, if restrictions ease as planned, and ongoing government support expected to drive a substantial summer revival in economic activity, underpinned by the rapid vaccine rollout,” the BCC said in a statement.

Looking long term, overall GDP growth predictions float between the 7-8% mark. The Confederation of British Industry’s forecasts sit at the optimistic end of the scale at 8.1% for the year.

As it stands, however, the UK’s domestic output is still some 8.8% lower than before the pandemic. Long term growth will likely cool with the effects of inflation and lower government support as we move into 2022.

Speaking of inflation, the week’s other key data release is the US consumer price index figures for July.

If the pace of inflation continues, then it will really test the Fed’s resolve. Chairman Powell has committed to the historically low cash rate, and seems content to let the economy run hot, but is this really sustainable?

June’s CPI inflation already caused alarm for some economists. By rising 5.4% year-on-year, the index had risen at its fastest pace since August 2008.

So far, the Fed has characterised inflation as “transitionary” and is still sticking to its dovish outlook. Its data modelling calls for 3% headline inflation by the end of 2021, before falling back to 2.1% in 2022.

Given consumer spending is the US economy’s major growth engine, accounting for roughly 68% of GDP, it’s little wonder why some observers are feeling tetchy and calling for more action. Gross domestic product missed growth expectations in Q1, for instance, as high prices limited consumer spending.

July’s CPI reading may thus be doubly important for the Fed.

It’s a subdued week for earnings on Wall Street, but we still have some large caps reporting. Headliners this week include Walt Disney, Palantir, and Airbnb who all report in on Thursday.

Make sure you check out our US earnings season calendar to see which large caps are still due to share quarterly earnings this week and beyond.

Major economic data

Date Time (GMT+1) Asset Event
Tue 10-Aug 10.00am EUR ZEW Economic Sentiment
10.00am EUR German ZEW Economic Sentiment
Wed 11-Aug 1.30am AUD Westpac Consumer Sentiment
1.30pm USD CPI m/m
1.30pm USD Core CPI m/m
3.30pm OIL US Crude Oil Inventories
Thu 12-Aug ALL DAY OIL OPEC-JMMC Meetings
7.00am GBP Prelim UK GDP
1.30pm USD PPI m/m
1.30pm USD Core PPI m/m
3.30pm GAS Natural Gas

 

Key earnings data

Mon 9 Aug Tue 10 Aug Thu 12 Aug
The Trade Desk (TTD) PMO Coinbase Global (COIN) AMC Palantir Technologies (PLTR) PMO
Viatris (VTRS) PMO Airbnb (ABNB) AMC
Walt Disney (DIS) AMC