Oil above $107 as supply concerns balance China data

LONDON (Reuters): Brent crude oil steadied on Monday, weighed down by Chinese data pointing to lower demand in the world's biggest energy consumer, but supported by potential disruption to oil supplies due to the Ukraine crisis and turmoil in Libya. China's manufacturing activity shrank in March, a preliminary private survey showed, adding to a string of weak indicators this year that have reinforced concerns about a slowdown. The government aims to reduce the economy's dependence on exports, but investors are worried that growth is cooling faster than expected. Oil, however, was underpinned by supply concerns.

 with the risk that a confrontation with the West over Ukraine could lead to a disruption of energy supplies from Russia, a major supplier of oil and gas to Europe.

Libyan oil exports are also running at more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd) below capacity thanks to civil unrest.

Brent crude for May was up 20 cents at $107.12 a barrel by 1230 GMT. The oil benchmark fell for a fourth straight week last week. US oil rose 50 cents to $99.96 a barrel.

"Oil is caught," said David Hufton, managing director of London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

"Anything that threatens economic growth especially in emerging economies is negative for oil demand and therefore bearish. On the other hand, anything that threatens supply, real or perceived, is bullish for oil prices."

Weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data is raising expectations the government could step in to stimulate the economy. Chinese equities have risen on hopes of a stimulus.

Brent crude has lost almost 4 per cent this year, giving up gains after rising to $112 in early March, a more than two-month high, amid geopolitical risks as Russia took control of Ukraine's Crimea region.

Concerns that tensions in the region could still worsen helped stem declines. NATO's top military commander said on Sunday Russia had built up a "very sizeable" force on its border with Ukraine and Moscow may have a region in another ex-Soviet republic, Moldova, in its sights after annexing Crimea.

Russian troops, using armoured vehicles, automatic weapons and stun grenades, seized some of the last military facilities under Ukrainian control in Crimea on Saturday. Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the Black Sea peninsula the day before.

Worries of continued unrest in Libya and other oil exporting countries have also helped put a floor under oil prices, even though the market has come off with the end of the severe winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere, Nunan said.

Rebels have occupied ports and oilfields, depressing Libya's oil production to less than 250,000 bpd, the state-run National Oil Corp said.

A pipeline problem further cut production at the southwestern el-Feel oilfield to between 50,000 and 60,000 bpd from 80,000 bpd, the state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) said on Sunday.

A commercial oil tanker seized by US forces after it loaded crude at a Libya port held by anti-government rebels has docked back in the capital Tripoli, a Reuters witness said on Sunday.

US special forces boarded the tanker a week ago off Cyprus, days after it left Es Sider port, which is controlled by rebels who demand more autonomy and oil wealth in defiance of the central government.

FWO to complete 13 uplift projects

LAHORE (APP): FWO will complete 13 uplift projects in three years. The projects include Khanewal-Raiwind Railway track, Gomal Zam Dam, Attabad Landslide Widening and Deepening of Spillway, Lyari Express, Muzaffarabad Chakhoti road, additional carriageway on Sehwan-Ratodero Section, extension of Right Bank outfall Drain, Bannu-Miranshah-Ghulam Khan road, Miranshah-Rezmak Makeen road, Wanna-Shakai Makeen road, Tank-Hathala-D.I Khan road, Peshawar-Torkhum road,  Ghallanai-Mohammed Gat and Nahakki Tunnel, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto bridge, construction of road Mirkhani Arandu in Chitral district, Sorab-Hoshab road project and Benazir Bhutto International Airport project Islamabad.

   FWO spokesman Major Hussain told APP on Monday that 2,417.2 kilometres roads, dual carriages and highways were being constructed. He said recent completion of Kasur-Depalpur road was a proof of excellence and competence of FWO engineers.

Gold falls 1pc as dollar firms up

LONDON(Reuters): Gold fell 1pc as expectations that US rates could rise in early 2015 supported the dollar and prompted investors to cash in gains made during gold’s recent rally to six-month highs. Palladium prices hit a 2½ year peak meanwhile as an ongoing strike in South Africa, simmering tensions over Ukraine and the launch of two palladium-backed exchange-traded funds in Johannesburg fuelled concerns that demand could outpace supply. Spot gold was down 0.9pc at $1,322.14 an ounce, while US gold futures for April delivery were down $12.60 an ounce at $1,323.40. The metal fell 3.5pc last week, dropping sharply after Federal Reserve Chair surprised world markets on Wednesday by signalling that US interest rates could rise sooner.

KATI for minimum holidays

KARACHI (APP): President KATI, Syed Farukh Mazhar and President, All Karachi Industrial Alliance, Mian Zahid Hussain and other officials of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) have called for minimum public holidays in the country to promote industrial and trade activities in the country. In a joint statement here on Monday, the business leaders said “we should do away with the culture of holidays from the country to make Pakistan an Asian tiger.” They said that after getting status of GSP-plus , we should complete export orders in time and it is necessary to make Saturday as full working day so that production would be increased and export orders would be met well in time.

LSE campus outreach programme

LAHORE (STAFF REPORTER): The first & second session of Financial Literacy initiative under Campus Outreach Program is held for the students of NUMAL University, Faisalabad, in collaboration with South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE). At the event Corporate Communications Department-LSE gave a detailed presentation covering all spheres of capital and financial markets. The students were briefly informed about the regulatory framework, market indicators, investment products, financial services & opportunities accessible to investors in Pakistan. Ms. Gitee Bhatti-Officer Corporate Communications quoted practical examples about various investment avenues obtainable in the market and their role in the economic structure of the country.

Ms. Gitee also spoke on various operational matters of the Exchanges including listings, trading, corporate governance, sensitivity of Stock Market and investor protection. While addressing to the students, Ms. Gitee requested the students to adopt saving behavior in their life style in order to become the Chief Financial Officer of their own life.