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Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Oil prices sank on Wednesday after government data showed a large increase in U.S. crude stockpiles for the second week in a row and as the market continues to grapple with concerns about weakening fuel demand.

U.S. commercial crude inventories rose by 2.2 million barrels in the week through June 7, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected stockpiles to fall by 481,000 barrels.

Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, was down $1.25, or 2%, at $61.04 around 11:20 a.m. ET (1520 GMT). Brent hit a session low at $60.30 in early morning trading.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell $1.37, or 2.6%, to $51.90 per barrel. WTI fell as low as $51.46 earlier in the session.

Crude futures fell to a nearly five-month low last week after EIA figures showed crude stocks surged to the highest level since July 2017. Brent is now down 19% from its 2019 high in April, while WTI is trading 22% lower over the same period.

Oil prices ended Tuesday’s session roughly flat, supported by expectations that OPEC and its allies will continue to prop up prices by limiting production, but buffeted by concerns that the U.S.-China trade war will weigh on global economic growth and fuel demand.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he is holding up negotiations until Beijing agrees to return to the terms of negotiations laid out earlier in trade talks.

“It is constant concern about the demand outlook because of what’s happening with the situation with China,” said John Kilduff, founding partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital.

Stocks and other assets have been bolstered by hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut interest rates and stimulate growth, but energy commodities need more evidence that economic activity will rebound, Kilduff added.

“Oil is reacting to the disease, while other assets are reacting to the cure more,” he said.

EIA on Tuesday cut its forecast for global oil demand growth to roughly 1.2 million barrels per day in 2019, down from last month’s projection of about 1.4 million bpd. OPEC and the International Energy Agency are scheduled to update their demand outlook on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

OPEC and other major producers are set to meet in the coming weeks to discuss their policy of withholding 1.2 million bpd from the market.

Members of the alliance known as OPEC+ have signaled they are prepared to extend the current deal, which started in January and runs through June, into the second half of the year.

Goldman Sachs on Wednesday said it expects OPEC+ to roll over the policy, given the “historically high” uncertainty in the oil market. The investment bank says it believes the group’s core members, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, will take steps to keep the market from tipping into oversupply or undersupply.

“From an effective production perspective, we expect that core-OPEC will continue to balance the market by responding to consumer demand, and if needed produce below or above its targets, as already exhibited during the first five months of the year. This would lead to a balanced market despite the vagaries of demand and Iran/Venezuela/Libya production,” Goldman said in a research note.

Goldman says that outcome will be only “modestly supportive” of oil prices, keeping Brent near $65.50 per barrel in the third quarter. The oil market will come under renewed pressure in the second half of the year as new infrastructure allows a surge of U.S. production to come online, the bank says.

After surging last year, U.S. crude oil output has steadied around 12 million-12.4 million barrels per day, according to preliminary weekly readings.

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Europe is at odds over who will replace Christine Lagarde at the IMF

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on October 4, 2018.

Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

European officials are still scratching their heads over Christine Lagarde’s successor at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to several people with knowledge of the discussions, with no standout candidate for the role.

Lagarde is due to start her new job as president of the European Central Bank (ECB) in November, leaving the IMF’s chair empty. In Europe, EU member states agree that the next IMF managing director needs to be from the continent — but they’re struggling to rally behind one particular name.

“The truth is that there is no readily available tried and tested European all-rounder,” a European minister, who did not want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the talks, told CNBC.

There is no official shortlist of candidates, but many governments of EU nations have put forward a name to take the top job. Some of the non-official candidates are:

  • Jeroen Dijsselbloem, former Dutch finance minister and president of the Eurogroup (which brings together the 19-euro zone finance ministers).
  • Mario Centeno, the Portuguese finance minister and currently Eurogroup chief.
  • Nadia Calvino, the Spanish finance minister.
  • Olli Rehn, central bank governor of Finland and former European commissioner for the euro.
  • Mark Carney, the current governor of the Bank of England — a Canadian citizen who also has Irish and English passports.
  • Kristalina Georgieva, from Bulgaria, who is currently serving as chief executive of the World Bank.
  • Mario Draghi, the outgoing ECB president.

According to two other European officials, who also preferred to remain anonymous, none of the candidates have the right profile at this stage. Some names also don’t have enough experience or they are not liked by certain governments due to their political affiliation, their past comments or their background, the officials told CNBC. Since the IMF’s formation back in 1945, the managing director has always been from Europe.

There is also an age restriction to deal with. The IMF’s rules state that managing directors must be under 65 years of age when appointed and cannot serve beyond their 70th birthday. As such, the chances of certain candidates, such as Kristalina Georgieva, become much smaller.

“If (the) age limit is adapted to today’s realities, there is Georgieva and Draghi,” the European minister told CNBC.

France, who’s chairing the discussions across the different EU capitals, is reportedly looking at ways to change the laws. However, it is unclear whether that idea would be approved inside the IMF.

A source within the French government told CNBC that Paris “does not have a preferred candidate and will play its coordination role impartially.” Meanwhile, a separate EU official confirmed to CNBC that the aim is to have an agreement by the end of the month.

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EU has 35 billion euro list ready if US hits EU cars: EU trade chief

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European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium March 7, 2018.

Eric Vidal | Reuters

The European Union would retaliate with extra duties on 35 billion euros ($39.1 billion) worth of U.S. goods if Washington went ahead with tariffs on EU cars, the bloc’s trade chief said on Tuesday.

“We will not accept any managed trade, quotas or voluntary export restraints and, if there were to be tariffs, we would have a rebalancing list,” European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told a committee of the European Parliament.

“It is already basically prepared, worth 35 billion euros. I do hope we do not have to use that one,” she continued.

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GE reveals new parts for the ‘world’s largest offshore wind turbine’

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GE Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of General Electric based in Paris, revealed “the first manufactured components” for its gigantic Haliade-X 12 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine.

On Monday, the firm displayed the first nacelle for the turbine, which will now be shipped from Saint-Nazaire in France to Rotterdam-Maasvlakte in the Netherlands. A nacelle sits directly behind a turbine’s blades and is a shell-like structure that contains crucial pieces of kit. These include the turbine’s gearbox, controller, generator and brake.

GE Renewable Energy said that a prototype of the Haliade-X 12 MW would be installed onshore in the Netherlands in order to “simplify access for testing.” Another nacelle is being assembled with a view to testing it in “actual operational conditions” at a site in the U.K.

John Lavelle, the CEO of GE Renewable Energy Offshore Wind, said the firm was “on track to start commercializing this new product very shortly.”

As technology develops, the size of wind turbines is increasing. In September 2018, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, a major player in the sector, launched the first commercially available double digit turbine, the V164-10.0 MW. The turbine has 80-meter long blades which weigh 35 tons each, and a tip height of around 187 meters.

The scale of GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X 12 MW turbine is also considerable. It will have a capacity of 12 megawatts, a height of 260 meters and a blade length of 107 meters. The turbine will generate 67 gigawatt hours of gross annual energy. The company has repeatedly described it as “the world’s largest offshore wind turbine.”

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