US oil production tops 10 million barrels a day for first time since 1970

Oil drill field pump
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U.S. oil production broke 10 million barrels a day for the first time in 48 years in November, according to new monthly data released by the government on Wednesday. While U.S. production has been rising as prices rose, the 10 million barrel mark is an important milestone that reinforces America’s place in the energy big leagues and also its aspiration to use its new oil dominance in diplomacy. The U.S. last produced 10 million barrels a day in November, 1970, just when production peaked before a very long decline, according to U.S. Energy Department monthly data. Unlike 1970, U.S. oil production in 2018 is on an upswing, and U.S. shale and other producers are expected to add more than 1 million barrels a day this year alone for an average production rate government forecasts put at 10.3 million barrels a day. “This is significant in market terms, and it’s very significant psychologically. The U.S. is back big time as an oil producer and could be by next year the largest in the world. We’re one of the big three now, and we could be number one,” said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman IHS Markit. Saudi Arabia was producing 10.6 million barrels a day before it cut back production to steady the oil price by reducing new supply, and Russia has been drilling about 11 million barrels a day. The U.S. produced 10.038 million barrels a day in November, and produced 10.044 million in November, 1970. In weekly EIA data that will be revised, the U.S. produced 9.92 million barrels a day last week, up sharply from 8.9 million barrels a day a year ago. “Just a decade ago, our net imports were 60 percent of total demand. Now, they’re 20 percent,” said Yergin. U.S. oil production, in fact, was half of what it is now a decade ago, during the financial crisis in 2008. But the high oil prices of 2008 were also the catalyst that propelled the U.S. shale industry, which has used evolving new technologies to extract oil from places once thought impossible.

Source: EIA

“The U.S. could add upwards of 2 million barrels a day from where we are today by the end of 2019,” said Yergin. Harold Hamm, Continental Resources CEO, said on CNBC Wednesday that the U.S. could be a net exporter of oil by 2020. “The Bakken’s demise was over exaggerated. The Bakken is back stronger than ever. The technology works better there than anywhere else,”  “What’s going to be very interesting is psychological when you hit that 10 million number, I think we’ve gone from energy dependence to self-sufficience to dominance,” said Helima Croft, head of commodities strategy at RBC. “When you think of yourself as dominant, that gives you the impetus for an even more active foreign policy.”

FBI says it has ‘grave concerns’ about accuracy of hotly debated FISA memo

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray

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Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray

The FBI on Wednesday said that a fiercely debated memo alleging abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the Russia probe contains “material omissions of fact” that undermine its accuracy. The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines this week to approve releasing the memo, assembled by panel Chairman Devin Nunes, to President Donald Trump and then to the public. The White House has not guaranteed that Trump will allow the memo to be released.

It is important to note that the statement was unsigned, not under the name of FBI Director Christopher Wray or anyone else. The New York Times later attributed the statement to Wray.

 

The statement is at odds with what White House chief of staff John Kelly said earlier Wednesday. The discrepancy is unusual. “It will be released here pretty quick, I think, and then the whole world can see it,” Kelly said in an interview with Fox News Radio.

The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.

With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.

Various reports have said that Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein warned Kelly against releasing the memo.

U.S. washer tariffs put Samsung, LG supply chains through the wringer

FILE PHOTO: Samsung washing machines are seen in a store in Singapore January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo

Last week’s decision by the U.S. government to impose tariffs of up to 50 percent on imports of washing machines and key components showed that wasn’t to be.

SEOUL (Reuters) – When South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics last year announced plans to build home appliance factories in the United States, they hoped to sidestep any fallout from President Donald Trump’s “America First” manufacturing and jobs mantra. The inclusion of hefty tariffs on components in particular had moved the goal posts in a long-running trade dispute, upending supply chains and threatening investment across other industries, officials from the companies and the South Korean government said.“It’s unprecedented and excessive, and will set alarm bells ringing for other companies doing businesses in the United States,” said one Samsung official, declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to media.  After committing hundreds of millions of dollars to build the plants and bring jobs to South Carolina and Tennessee, the ruling caught the companies by surprise and was a “worst case” scenario, according to one executive. Samsung says it will use imported parts until its factory runs at full capacity and becomes ready to produce key parts, expected to be by the end of the year.Samsung, which relies on a sprawling manufacturing base in low-cost countries such as Vietnam has argued that a tight quota on overseas-made parts could deny it the supply chain flexibility it may need as its new U.S. production lines set up. The ruling on a quota for foreign components is also making other manufacturers and suppliers jittery.“Even if you bring your tier-1 supplier with you to … the U.S. manufacturing facilities, your tier-1 suppliers will have tier 2 and 3 suppliers which would source components from abroad. It makes it very complicated to calculate,” a senior executive at Korean automaker Hyundai Motor told Reuters.

 

Wal-Mart has announced thousands of layoffs since publicizing bonuses and benefits expansion

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Wal-Mart has announced bonuses and a minimum-wage increase along with layoffs.

Since Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it would hand out bonuses and expand benefits to more than 1 million associates thanks to new tax reform measures, the retail giant has also laid out plans for store closures and thousands of layoffs at both the store and corporate level. Wal-Mart  confirmed about 1,000 layoffs in California on Monday, including 650 associates in Sam’s Club locations in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Orange County, and 359 at a Wal-Mart location in Sacramento. A company spokesperson said these cuts were part of the company’s effort to manage its fleet effectively. “We are working with our associates to help find them other local opportunities where possible, at either nearby clubs and stores, or elsewhere,” the company said in an email to MarketWatch. Last week, the company cut as many as 500 workers in the corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. More than 360 associates will be promoted into positions of “higher authority,” a company spokesperson said, with these promotions focused on areas of interest like online grocery. On Jan. 11, Wal-Mart announced that it would raise the minimum hourly wage for all associates to $11, expand maternity and parental leave benefits and offer a one-time bonus to eligible associates. Bonuses could total up to $1,000, but the maximum amount is reserved for those veterans with 20 or more years of service with the company. Wal-Mart said these benefits would impact more than 1 million hourly U.S. associates. The company had about 2.3 million associates around the world at the time of that announcement. “As you know, the president and Congress have approved a lower business tax rate,” wrote Chief Executive Doug McMillion in a note posted on the company website. “Given these changes, we have an opportunity to accelerate a few pieces of our investment plan. On the same day, it was revealed that Wal-Mart would cut about 10,000 jobs as a result of 63 Sam’s Club store closures.

SEC halts one of the largest ‘ICOs’ ever as it wades deeper into the murky world of cryptocurrency offerings

Jay Clayton, chairman of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Zach Gibson | Bloomberg | Getty Images Jay Clayton, chairman of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday it has obtained a court order to halt and freeze the assets of what is likely the largest initial coin offering ever. The complaint was filed in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday and unsealed late Monday. The SEC said Dallas-based AriseBank “used social media, a celebrity endorsement, and other wide dissemination tactics to raise what it claims to be $600 million of its $1 billion goal in just two months.” The court approved an emergency asset freeze over AriseBank and its two co-founders. The SEC said that for the first time in connection to an ICO fraud, it has appointed a third-party custodian, or receiver, to secure the firm’s cryptocurrency holdings. Those assets include bitcoin, litecoin, bitshares, dogecoin and bitUSD. “The ICO is an illegal offering of securities because there is no registration filed or in effect with the SEC, nor is there an applicable exemption from registration,” the complaint said. Fundraisers for projects based on the blockchain technology behind bitcoin are called token sales or initial coin offerings. They have raised more than $3.7 billion, but more than 10 percent of those funds have been lost to hackers, according to a study from Ernst and Young. Filecoin, which is building a decentralized storage network, raised the equivalent of roughly $252 million in the largest ICO to date, according to financial research firm Autonomous Next. Overstock.com subsidiary tZero is in the middle of a $250 million token sale, down from initial plans to raise $500 million. The SEC alleges AriseBank “falsely stated that it purchased [a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation]-insured bank which enabled it to offer customers FDIC-insured accounts.” AriseBank calls itself a “decentralized bank” and announced Thursday it was correcting an announcement made the prior week about the acquisition of an FDIC-insured bank. Two websites for AriseBank were unavailable Tuesday morning, and lawyers for the firm couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The SEC seeks to recover the funds, and wants to bar the co-founders from serving as officers or directors of a public company, or offering digital securities in the future.

The good economy might not bail out Republicans in the midterms after all

Voters cast their ballots at the polling place at Fairfax Circle Baptist Church during Super Tuesday voting March 1, 2016 in Fairfax, United States.

In centering their midterm election strategy on a strong economy, Republicans face a challenge: history shows it doesn’t work. Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz has examined every midterm election since World War II. Among factors influencing partisan changes in the House, the state of the economy ranked low. “The correlation between economic indicators and seat-swings in midterm elections is very weak,” Abramowitz says. The president’s job approval rating, he adds, has been four times as powerful as economic growth in determining how his party fares. That helps explain why, despite solid growth, surging markets and falling unemployment, more than twice as many Republicans (34) as Democrats (15) have chosen to leave the House rather than seat re-election. Just 38 percent of Americans approve of President Donald Trump’s handling of his job in the Gallup poll preceding Tuesday night’s State of the Union, continuing his status as the least popular first-term chief executive in the history of survey research. Recent midterm elections demonstrate the point. Over the past half-century, the presidents who fared best in midterms during their second year were George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. For the elder Bush in 1990, the economy had fallen into recession. But following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, he boasted an 80 percent approval rating before his first State of the Union speech. His fellow Republicans went on to lose just eight seats, well below the average loss of 24.

Toys R Us poor holiday sales cast doubts on its future and could force renegotiation of loan terms

Goods at the Toys R Us store are marked down in price as the company faces bankruptcy.
Tony Margiocchi | Barcroft Images | Getty Images Goods at the Toys R Us store are marked down in price as the company faces bankruptcy.

Holiday sales this past year ballooned, but those riches didn’t extend to Toys R Us. The bankrupt toy store missed significantly on every number that mattered, sources say, likely forcing the retailer to renegotiate key lending terms. Sales were down more than hoped as was traffic and the amount of toys in stock it got out the door. Meanwhile, its profits were squeezed as Amazon and big-box retailers Target and Walmart slashed prices to reel in customers. For these retailers, toys could act as bait, with the hope that once shoppers came for the toys they would also purchase other items with higher profit margins. Toys R Us doesn’t have any such buffer. Toys R Us discounted roughly 10 percent more of its products in holiday 2017 compared with the prior year, according to Market Track. The company had a “material miss” on its holiday sales, said a person familiar with the results. This at the same time Amazon said it had its best year across the board. The poor holiday numbers may require Toys R Us to renegotiate the terms of its debt with its lenders, sources say. They will hover over Toys R Us as it works with debtholders over the next couple of weeks to draft its plans for moving forward. The lenders will have to determine if the Toys R Us business plan is supportable, said the sources. Toys R Us needs help from debtholders and the largest toy companies — Mattel and Hasbro — in order to emerge from bankruptcy protection by the summer as planned, sources say. Mattel and Hasbro need confidence not only in Toys R Us’ ability to emerge from bankruptcy, but also the retailer’s ability to escape the same fate twice. One Toys R Us bankruptcy filing already materially impacted both of their businesses.

US crude sinks 1.6%, settling at $64.50, amid broad sell-off in stocks and commodities

Oil
Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Oil prices fell on Tuesday, driven by ongoing evidence of rising U.S. crude output, while wary investors sold off stocks, bonds and commodities. U.S. West Texas Intermediate ended Tuesday’s trade down $1.06, or 1.6 percent, at $64.50 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 45 cents to $69.01 a barrel. “There are so many longs in the market that they’re now taking profits,” said Tariq Zahir, analyst at Tyche Capital Advisors, referring to traders who have placed wagers that oil prices will keep rising. “This could just be a one-day thing before we start to see a move to the upside again.” With oil’s negative correlation to the dollar reaching its strongest in a month, even continued signs of robust demand for crude were not enough to ward off profit taking following last week’s rise to three-year highs. “I do have the feeling that market optimism pushed prices perhaps a little bit too high, but … as long as (inventories) continue to decline, for me, personally, I’m more and more looking at a ‘buy-on-dips’ strategy, so I’m looking for a correction lower,” ABN Amro chief energy economist Hans van Cleef said. Oil’s inverse relationship to the dollar, whereby a stronger currency makes it more expensive for non-U.S. investors to buy dollar-denominated assets, has reasserted itself this week. Expectations for U.S. inventories to rise for the first time in 11 weeks may also be keeping oil under pressure, according to a preliminary poll by Reuters on Monday. U.S. production is already on par with that of Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Only Russia produces more, averaging 10.98 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2017.”The global trend seems to be indicating more oil is coming into the market despite best efforts by the Saudis and Russians to curtail output,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.

U.S. output has jumped more than 17 percent since mid-2016 and is expected to exceed 10 million bpd soon.

The rising tide of U.S. oil output comes after prices rose following an agreement by OPEC producers, along with Russia and other countries, on output curbs. “As drilling activity now picks up again, oil production looks set to increase in the coming months. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects production in the U.S. to grow by just shy of 1 million bpd this year,” Commerzbank said in a note. “Since oil production is also on the increase elsewhere especially in Canada and Brazil non-OPEC supply is even likely to outpace global demand. This means OPEC will lose market shares and have no scope whatsoever for stepping up production.”

Experts question Trump decision to hold off on Russian sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision not to impose sanctions on Russia for now, under a law overwhelmingly passed by Congress, represents a missed opportunity to deter the Kremlin’s aggressive behavior, former U.S. officials and Russia specialists said on Tuesday.

The Trump administration late on Monday said it would not immediately impose sanctions under the law, designed to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Russia denies doing so.

The administration also published a list of Russian oligarchs who could be sanctioned, as required by the law.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that the administration could still impose sanctions. “This should in no way be interpreted as we’re not putting sanctions on any of the people in that report,” Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee, referring to the list of oligarchs. Under the law, the administration faced a Monday deadline to impose sanctions on anyone who was determined to have conducted significant business with Russian defense and intelligence sectors. Those sectors already have been sanctioned for their alleged role in the U.S. presidential election. “I think the administration missed an opportunity to extend the use of sanctions” to deter Russia, said retired ambassador Daniel Fried, formerly the State Department’s top sanctions official. The report on Russian oligarchs “seemed to be assembled in haste, and seemed to be close to a cut-and-paste job,” said Fried, now at the Atlantic Council think tank. Trump criticized the sanctions law, which Congress passed last year with enough backing to override any presidential veto, and has seemed unenthusiastic about implementing it. In a statement late on Monday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the law by itself was deterring Russian defense sales. “Since the enactment of the … legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions,” she said.

While that explanation is “not preposterous,” said Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor at King’s College London, “the main concern is clearly not wanting to upset Russia more.”

Second Trump-Russia dossier being assessed by FBI confirms kinky shit!

YOU need to use your brain. Listen to what the man says…. Listen to what he admits he does,,,,,,, It is plausible that SEX has compromised him with the Russians. We just got news of payoffs to a pron star. Connect the dots!

Exclusive: memo written by former journalist Cody Shearer independently confirms some of the allegations made by ex-spy Christopher Steele
Trump and his supporters have been seeking to cast doubt on the credibility of Mueller’s investigation.

 

The FBI inquiry into alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 US presidential election has been given a second memo that independently set out some of the same allegations made in a dossier by Christopher Steele, the British former spy. The second memo was written by Cody Shearer, a controversial political activist and former journalist who was close to the Clinton White House in the 1990s. Unlike Steele, Shearer does not have a background in espionage, and his memo was initially viewed with scepticism, not least because he had shared it with select media organisations before the election. However, the Guardian has been told the FBI investigation is still assessing details in the ‘Shearer memo’ and is pursuing intriguing leads. One source with knowledge of the inquiry said the fact the FBI was still working on it suggested investigators had taken an aspect of it seriously.

It raises the possibility that parts of the Steele dossier, which has been derided by Trump’s supporters, may have been corroborated by Shearer’s research, or could still be.

The Shearer memo was provided to the FBI in October 2016. It was handed to them by Steele – who had been given it by an American contact after the FBI requested the former MI6 agent provide any documents or evidence that could be useful in its investigation, according to multiple sources. The Guardian was told Steele warned the FBI he could not vouch for the veracity of the Shearer memo, but that he was providing a copy because it corresponded with what he had separately heard from his own independent sources.

Among other things, both documents allege Donald Trump was compromised during a 2013 trip to Moscow that involved lewd acts in a five-star hotel.

The Shearer memo cites an unnamed source within Russia’s FSB, the state security service. The Guardian cannot verify any of the claims. People who know Shearer say he is not just a Democratic party hack and there is no evidence that his memo was ever sought by Clinton campaign officials. Sources say that while he lacks the precision and polish of a seasoned former spy like Steele, Shearer has also been described as having a large network of sources around the world and the independent financial means to pursue leads. Steele’s dossier, his motives for writing it and his decision to share it remain controversial among Republicans. He says he approached the FBI about concerns he had about links between Russia and the Trump campaign after he was commissioned to investigate the matter by a private investigative firm called Fusion GPS on behalf of the firm’s clients. Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, told congressional investigators that Steele approached the FBI out of a sense of duty and concern for US national security. Nick Bit: Don’t let them wave the flag and a make American great T shirt and make a idiot out  of you. FOR A FACT Trump is a kinki mother. Pron stars and other have come forward…. YOU HEARD him talk about women on his little bus trip. Here is the real deal the inside story. FOR SURE WITHOUT A DOUBT TRUMP HAS BEEN COMPRIMISED BY THE RUSSIANS. They have video of him doing the most kinky things imaginable including yellow rain. I DON’T GIVE A SHIT!!! The problem is Trump is desperate for this NOT TO COME OUT! therefore he has been compromised by the Russians.. More on this in todays Radio Free Wall Street

 

Democrats have said the campaign against Steele is part of an effort to seek to discredit him in order to shift attention away from allegations about Trump and Russia.