Monday, 8 August 2016

OPEC The Same Old Story.

Baltic Dry Index. 636 -05     Brent Crude 44.40

LIR Gold Target in 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

Count Otto von Bismarck.
We open with yet another attempt to talk up the price of crude oil via some OPEC members calling for a production cut. But any OPEC production cut will just be made up by Iran, Iraq and the US oil fracking sector. And anyway oil demand for the year is probably already passing its peak as we approach the end of summer in the northern hemisphere.
Below Reuters covers the same old tired OPEC story. One day it may turn out to be true, but not this year.

Oil rises on renewed output freeze talks, but fundamentals remain weak

Mon Aug 8, 2016 12:35am EDT
Oil prices rose in early trading on Monday, lifted by reports of renewed talks by some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to restrain output.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $41.90 per barrel at 0411 GMT (12:11 a.m. ET), up 10 cents from their last close. Brent futures LCOc1 were trading at $44.34 per barrel, up 7 cents.

The price rise came on the back of renewed calls by some OPEC members to freeze production in a bid to rein in output that has been consistently outpacing demand.

"OPEC members including Venezuela, Ecuador and Kuwait are said to be behind this latest reincarnation. But just like previous endeavors, it seems doomed to fail, given key OPEC members (think: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran) persist in their battle for market share, ramping up exports apace," said Matt Smith of ClipperData in a note.

Yet in the absence of an agreement, a fight for market share via high output and price discounts is still weighing on markets.

Iraq has dropped the September official selling price for Basra Light crude to Asia by $1 to minus $2.30 a barrel against the average of Oman/Dubai quotes from the previous month, the State Oil Marketing Organization said on Monday, making it the latest exporter to drop its prices.

Meanwhile, oil drilling in the United States keeps increasing.

"Another increase in the rig count in the U.S. also weighed on sentiment. The Baker Hughes data show rigs operating in the U.S. are the highest since March (at 381)," ANZ bank said.

On the demand side, AB Bernstein said that oil demand growth had been strong in 2015 and the first half of this year, at 2.0 and 1.5 percent respectively, but that the outlook was weakening.

In European news, Great Britain comes to live with Brexit. Continental Europe finally comes to sense over Turkey. Meanwhile Turkey tries to cut a deal with Russia. Will Turkey leave NATO? Will Erdogan cut a deal with Putin over Assad? Stay tuned for more developments later in the week.

UK consumer spending picks up in July, bucking signs of slowdown -Visa

Sun Aug 7, 2016 7:08pm EDT
British consumer spending picked up last month, according to a survey from card company Visa UK that bucked other signs Britons have become more cautious since June, when they voted to leave the European Union.

Based on Visa credit and debit card usage data, consumer spending rose 1.6 percent in July compared with a year ago, up from June's 0.9 percent increase and the biggest rise in three months.

Seasonally-adjusted spending increased by 1.1 percent, the strongest month-on-month gain since January, reversing a 0.5 percent decline in June.

But the monthly data are volatile. Taken together, the last three months suggested consumers remain careful with their spending, Visa said.

"July's data suggests that UK consumer spending is holding up despite the ongoing uncertainty following the referendum, albeit at lower levels of growth than we've seen in the last couple of years," said Kevin Jenkins, Visa's managing director for Britain and Ireland.

Most Germans want to end EU migrant deal with Turkey: poll

Sun Aug 7, 2016 10:44am EDT
Most Germans think the European Union should scrap a landmark migration deal with Turkey, also scuppering negotiations on its accession to the bloc, according to a poll published on Sunday.

The deal, agreed by Ankara in exchange for the revival of financial aid, the promise of visa-free travel to much of the EU and accelerated membership talks, has sharply cut the number of refugees entering Europe via eastern routes.

Last year Germany took in around 1.1 million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond, far more than any other EU state, creating conditions that have led to a rise in social and political tensions in Europe's powerhouse economy.

But the Emnid survey for mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag showed 52 percent were in favor of the migration deal being terminated, compared with 35 percent who wanted it to continue.

More than two thirds of the 502 people surveyed on Aug. 4 also wanted an immediate freeze of aid payments to Turkey and 66 percent wanted the EU accession talks broken off.

---- The reciprocal visa-free access has been delayed due to a dispute over Turkish anti-terrorism legislation and concern in the West about the scale of Ankara's crackdown following a failed coup.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last weekend Ankara would back out of the refugee agreement with the EU if the bloc did not deliver visa-free travel.

Austria threatens to block acceleration of Turkish EU talks

Sun Aug 7, 2016 12:51pm EDT
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has threatened to block the expansion of negotiations with Turkey on its accession to the European Union, which could scupper a landmark migration deal between Brussels and Ankara.

The Turkish government's crackdown on followers of a U.S.-based cleric whom it blames for last month's failed coup has strained relations with the 28-nation bloc, which depends on Ankara to restrict the westward flow of migrants.

Talks on Turkish accession to the EU began in 2005, but only one out of 35 "chapters", or policy areas where Turkey must adopt and implement EU rules, has been concluded.

"I have a seat and a vote in the (EU) foreign ministers' council. There the question is whether new negotiation chapters will be opened with Turkey, and I am against it," Kurz said in an interview with Austrian daily Kurier, threatening to block the unanimous agreement required by the council.

Erdogan says talks with Putin to open new page in relations: TASS

Sun Aug 7, 2016 2:17pm EDT
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan expects talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week to open "a new page" in bilateral relations, he told the Russian news agency TASS in an interview published on Sunday.

The talks, in the city of St Petersburg, are intended to end a period of high tension after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border last November. Russia imposed trade sanctions on Turkey and the number of Russian tourists visiting the country fell by 87 percent in the first half of 2016.

"This will be a historic visit, a new beginning. At the talks with my friend Vladimir (Putin), I believe, a new page in bilateral relations will be opened. Our countries have a lot to do together," TASS quoted Erdogan as saying.

Erdogan and Putin will focus in their talks on Tuesday on the Syria conflict, trade, energy and the resumption of Russian charter flights to Turkey.

"Without Russia's participation it's impossible to find a solution to the Syrian problem. Only in partnership with Russia will we be able to settle the crisis in Syria," Erdogan said.

Russia and Turkey have been on different sides in Syria, with Moscow backing President Bashar al-Assad while Ankara wants him ousted.

Erdogan's meeting with Putin coincides with renewed strains in Ankara's ties with the West after a failed military coup in Turkey in which more than 230 people were killed. Turkey accuses the West of showing more concern over a post-coup crackdown than over the bloody events themselves.

However, Turkish officials say Erdogan's visit to Russia does not mean Turkey, a NATO ally and an aspiring member of the European Union, is turning its back on the West

Putin Senses Syria Victory That’ll Cement Assad, Confound U.S.

August 7, 2016 — 10:00 PM BST
Vladimir Putin may be on the cusp of a pivotal victory in Syria’s civil war that would make it much harder for the U.S. to achieve its stated goal of ousting Bashar al-Assad without a major military escalation.

Assad’s troops, backed by Russian air power, are bearing down on rebels entrenched in Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city before fighting erupted in 2011. Reclaiming Syria’s commercial capital would give Assad control over all major population centers and cement his hold on a contiguous swath of land from Turkey to Jordan that makes up almost half of the country.

“Russia will stick to its guns in Syria and show the whole world we are right,” Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the defense committee in the upper house of parliament, said by phone from Moscow. Driving the last rebel groups out of Aleppo within a few months is now “quite realistic,” he said. 

It’s been almost a year since Putin stunned the U.S. and its allies by entering the conflict to battle Islamist militants and prop up an old ally, turning the tables on western and regional powers intent on regime change. What started as a bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters morphed into a multifaceted proxy war that triggered Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II and facilitated the rise of Islamic State and its global campaign of terror.
Opposition militias in Aleppo over the weekend managed to open a route out of besieged eastern neighborhoods where some quarter of a million people live, but renewed strikes by government and Russian forces are preventing them from securing it, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, or SOHR, which monitors the war through activists on the ground. 
---- With authorities in Ankara accusing the U.S. of complicity in the putsch and officials from Washington to Brussels condemning Erdogan’s resultant purge, the Turkish leader is turning to Putin to forge a new strategic partnership. The two leaders will meet in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, a day after Putin holds talks with the president of Iran, Assad’s other major benefactor.
The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.

Count Otto von Bismarck.
At the Comex silver depositories Friday final figures were: Registered 26.97 Moz, Eligible 126.29 Moz, Total 153.26 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today continental Europe. Has the worm finally turned?

‘We’ve had ENOUGH Merkel’ Rest of Europe gangs up on Germany over crippling EU austerity

ANGELA Merkel cut an increasingly isolated figure in Europe tonight as the rest of the continent ganged up on Germany over its imposition of crippling austerity.

By Nick Gutteridge PUBLISHED: 18:51, Sat, Aug 6, 2016 | UPDATED: 20:00, Sat, Aug 6, 2016
Major EU nations including France, Italy and Spain are clubbing together to form a new alliance with the aim of wrestling back economic power from the German leader. 
Mediterranean economies have been devastated by an EU-wide policy of austerity enforced from Berlin, which has led to massive youth unemployment and soaring poverty. 
Fiscally conservative Germany, which is the EU’s largest economy, is reluctant to loosen the purse strings and authorise the huge injection of cash many other member states need to kickstart their fortunes. 
But policies which have benefited German industry and exports have caused economic oblivion in many parts of southern Europe, and now the rest of the continent seems to have had enough. 
The leaders of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta are planning to meet in Athens next month to forge a new anti-austerity alliance with the aim of wrestling back control of the European Central Back (ECB), which sets Eurozone fiscal policy, from Berlin. 
It is being headed up by Greek premier Alexis Tsipras, who has frequently clashed with both Mrs Merkel and Brussels over the crippling austerity which has brought his country to its knees. 
Preliminary discussions on how to outmanoeuvre the all-powerful German leader had already taken place, with Mr Tsipras and his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi having held informal talks about the possibility of setting up an “Alliance of Europe’s South” on the sidelines of June’s EU summit. 
The leaders want the group to push for a pro-growth agenda and will now hold their first meeting in the Greek capital on September 9, according to the Athens News Agency. 
During the talks they will focus on the “common” challenges facing southern EU countries on an economic, political and institutional level and particularly on austerity, fiscal discipline and migration.
Mr Tsipras is looking to spearhead a relaxation of crippling austerity and the introduction of more “flexibility” into EU budget surplus requirements set by Brussels. 
The participation of France - traditionally seen as the EU’s second most powerful member - will lend huge weight to the project and may make it difficult for Mrs Merkel to continue to resist calls to loosen the purse strings. 
The French economy has been in the doldrums for years, suffering from sluggish production and growth, and president Francois Hollande has indicated he would like to see an end to EU austerity. 
But any move to unleash massive spending to kickstart southern European economies could prove very unpopular with German voters, who would ultimately be required to foot the bill. 

The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia.

Count Otto von Bismarck

Solar  & Related Update.

With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported. Is converting sunlight to usable cheap AC or DC energy mankind’s future from the 21st century onwards? DC? A quantum computer next?

Swapping substrates improves edges of graphene nanoribbons

Using inert boron nitride instead of silica creates precise zigzag edges in monolayer graphene

Date: August 1, 2016

Source: American Institute of Physics

Summary: Miniscule ribbons of graphene are highly sought-after building blocks for semiconductor devices because of their predicted electronic properties. But making these nanostructures has remained a challenge. Now, scientists have devised a new method to make the structures in the lab.
It is now feasible to make a prized material for spintronic devices and semiconductors -- monolayer graphene nanoribbons with zigzag edges.
Miniscule ribbons of graphene are highly sought-after building blocks for semiconductor devices because of their predicted electronic properties. But making these nanostructures has remained a challenge. Now, a team of researchers from China and Japan have devised a new method to make the structures in the lab. Their findings appear in the current issue of Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.
"Many studies have predicted the properties of graphene nanoribbons with zigzag edges," said Guangyu Zhang, senior author on the study. "But in experiments it's very hard to actually make this material."
Previously, researchers have tried to make graphene nanoribbons by placing sheets of graphene over a layer of silica and using atomic hydrogen to etch strips with zigzag edges, a process known as anisotropic etching. These edges are crucial to modulate the nanoribbon's properties.
But this method only worked well to make ribbons that had two or more graphene layers. Irregularities in silica created by electronic peaks and valleys roughen its surface, so creating precise zigzag edges on graphene monolayers was a challenge. Zhang and his colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing Key Laboratory for Nanomaterials and Nanodevices, and the Collaborative Innovation Center of Quantum Matter teamed up with Japanese collaborators from the National Institute for Materials Science to solve the problem.
They replaced the underlying silica with boron nitride, a crystalline material that's chemically sluggish and has a smooth surface devoid of electronic bumps and pits. By using this substrate and the anisotropic etching technique, the group successfully made graphene nanoribbons that were only one-layer thick, and had well-defined zigzag edges.
"This is the first time we have ever seen that graphene on a boron nitride surface can be fabricated in such a controllable way," Zhang explained.
The zigzag-edged nanoribbons showed high electron mobility in the range of 2000 cm2/Vs even at widths of less than 10nm -- the highest value ever reported for these structures -- and created clean, narrow energy band gaps, which makes them promising materials for spintronic and nano-electronic devices.
"When you decrease the width of the nanoribbons, the mobility decreases drastically because of edge defects," said Zhang. "Using standard lithography fabrication techniques, studies have seen mobility of 100 cm2/Vs or even lower, but our material still exceeds 2000 cm2/Vs even at the sub-10 nanometer scale, demonstrating that these nanoribbons are of very high quality."
In future studies, extending this method to other kinds of substrates could enable the quick large scale processing of monolayers of graphene to make high-quality nanoribbons with zigzag edges.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished July

DJIA: 18432  +03 Up NASDAQ:  5162 +10 Up. SP500: 2173 +01 Up.

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