over 1 year ago • 3 mins
Oil giant Shell warned investors on Thursday that its run of record quarterly profit is about to come to an end.
What does this mean?
What benefits oil companies and what benefits the wider world isn’t always the same – that much was clear after war erupted in Europe back in February. The ensuing jump in oil prices led to a boom for the industry and handed Shell two back-to-back quarters of record profit. But the global economy’s tanked in the meantime, and all of a sudden the outlook for oil has dimmed – with prices taking a tumble from their over $120-a-barrel price back in June. Add weaker gas trading and falling demand for plastics to the mix, and it’s no surprise that Shell said its profit will probably underwhelm when the numbers emerge at the end of the month.
Why should I care?
For markets: A slim ray of HOPEC.
OPEC+, a group of oil producing nations, is less than thrilled with falling oil prices, and has announced plans to reduce supply by two million barrels a day – twice the rumored amount. Now, while that move will probably spur a recovery in oil prices, the effect might not actually be as drastic as it seems: weaker members of OPEC+ have struggled to keep up with existing production targets anyway, so the actual dent to supply could be less than the official figure suggests.
The bigger picture: The grass is always greener – the future, not so much.
Many companies – including Shell – have ambitious plans to pivot to green energy, but it looks like they aren’t investing enough. According to experts, the world needs to be spending $4 on renewables for every $1 we spend on high-polluting energy by 2030. Do that, and we have a chance of reaching net-zero by 2050 – but given that we haven’t even reached a spending ratio of 1:1 yet, it’s a long shot.
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Data out on Thursday showed that retail sales in the eurozone slumped again in August.
What does this mean?
Robust retail sales can instill confidence in a country’s consumer demand, but Europe’s dreary results will have done anything but: sales of everything from food and drink to online shopping flopped as extortionate prices forced Europeans to protect their pennies. And sure, summer travelers did get a bit happy-go-lucky at the pump, buying 5% more gas than they did at the same time last year. But that was nowhere near enough to stop total retail sales from slipping for the third month in a row, leaving them a worse-than-expected 2% lower than the same time last year. And since consumer spending is a cornerstone of Europe’s economy, this drab data will only support economists’ predictions of an impending recession.
Why should I care?
Zooming in: Any time now, Germany.
If Europe’s waiting for its biggest economy to pick things up, it might be left twiddling its thumbs. Separate data out on Thursday showed factory orders in Germany fell 2.4% in August from the month before, an unsettling stat for an economy that prides itself on its manufacturing industry. That’ll do nothing to reassure leading research institutes that already slashed German economic growth forecasts last week, now predicting the country’s output will be $158 billion lower this year and the next than they forecasted five months ago.
The bigger picture: We’re all in this together.
Europe’s been trying to fill the Russian-shaped hole in its energy supplies however it can, as fast as it can. Problem is, that frantic shopping has been pushing the price of natural gas – and the cargo boats that transport it – even higher for the rest of the world. So in an effort to solve its own energy crisis, Europe’s been exporting the pain elsewhere too, and Asia’s emerging economies – already plagued by mounting debt and weak currencies – are among the hardest hit.
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