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Oil could rise $10 per barrel after drone attack forces Saudi to cut output

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A trader wipes his eyes as he watches stock prices at the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images

Oil prices could jump as much as $10 per barrel after a number of drone strikes hit the center of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, reportedly forcing the kingdom to cut its oil output in half.

Ten drones attacked an oil processing facility at Abqaiq and the nearby Khurais oil field on Saturday, reportedly causing a loss of almost five million barrels of crude production a day or about 5% of the world’s daily oil production. Although it’s still too early to tell the extent of the damage and how long the facilities will be shut down, oil analysts and traders told CNBC the impact on the commodity’s price could be double digit.

“This is a big deal,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “Fearing the worst, I expect that the market will open up $5 to $10 per barrel on Sunday evening. This is 12 to 25 cents per gallon for gasoline.”

Kevin Book, head of research at Clearview Energy, said the price impact will depend on the repair time which can take weeks to months.

“Our baseline assumptions, which incorporate public assessments of strategic petroleum reserve capacity and OPEC spare capacity, imply a net shortfall of ~1 MM bbl/d, or at least a ~$6/bbl premium to the ~$60 Brent close,” Book said in a note. “Exclusive of this supply offset, and assuming a three-week shutdown, our models imply ~$10/bbl of upside.”

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled 0.4% lower at $54.85 on Friday, and Brent crude futures traded 0.2% lower at $60.25 per barrel.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack, one of their largest attacks ever inside the kingdom. The Houthis have been behind a series of attacks on Saudi pipelines, tankers and other infrastructure in the past few years as tensions rise among Iran and the U.S. and partners like Saudi Arabia.

“Assuming damage light, the next big question is where the drones came from,” said Bob McNally, president at Rapidan Energy Group. “If Iraq, then oil will go up more than a few dollars. And if Abqaiq kills talks of easing sanctions and the discussion turns to retaliation and escalation, I think oil could easily trade higher by $10 or more.”

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How to stay safe while flying and staying in hotels during a pandemic

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Australian retailers suffer worst quarter in 20 years, exports shine

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Shoppers walk past a retail store in Australia.

Brendon Thorne | Getty Images

Australia’s retailers are facing a consumption drought as the country’s second biggest state locks down to fight the coronavirus and as data showed sales volumes suffered their biggest plunge in two decades in the second quarter.

Retail sales adjusted for inflation slipped 3.4% in the June quarter, Tuesday’s data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed, the steepest decline since the introduction of the goods and services tax in 2000. Analysts were expecting a 3.2% fall in the quarter.

The larger-than-expected drop suggests consumer spending will be a drag on gross domestic product growth in the June quarter.

The sales downturn was driven by cafes & restaurants, off 29.1%, and clothing, footwear and personal accessory, down 22%. There were also losses in food retailing.

The slump in volumes contrasts with value-based retail numbers, with June seeing a solid 2.7% jump in monthly sales and May recording a stellar 16.9% rise as shops, restaurants and pubs fully reopened across large parts of Australia.

Economists warned the outlook was clouded by a second wave of coronavirus infections in the state of Victoria, with weekly spending data by the country’s major banks already showing signs of moderation.

Victoria declared a “state of disaster” this week following a relentless surge in coronavirus infections since late June.

In contrast to retailers, Australia’s exporters have been going gangbusters thanks to demand from China for iron ore and other resources, while imports have been hammered by the lockdowns.

Separate data on Tuesday showed the trade surplus swelled to A$8.2 billion in June, taking the total for the second quarter to a whopping A$23.4 billion.

Exports rose 3% in June underpinned in part by sharply rising prices for iron ore and gold, providing a windfall to miners’ earnings and government tax receipts.

Exports to China alone hit an historic high of A$14.6 billion for the month, bringing the rolling 12-month total to A$151 billion.

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New Delhi cannot fully cut off economic ties with Beijing

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India China tensions: New Delhi cannot fully cut off economic ties with Beijing