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by Stockwatch Business Reporter
West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery added 98 cents to $81.31 on the New York Merc, while Brent for March added $1.47 to $87.63 (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $23.35 to WTI, up from a discount of $23.50. Natural gas for February lost 10 cents to $3.17. The TSX energy index added a fraction of a point to close at 248.97.
Oil prices notched their second weekly gain in a row, buoyed by predictions of higher demand from China as it continues to relax its COVID restrictions. Prices are also getting a boost from a brightening U.S. economic outlook. Speaking at the University of Chicago yesterday, U.S. Federal Reserve vice-chairman Lael Brainard said the chances of a "soft landing" for the U.S. economy are improving, suggesting that the Fed could slow down its pace on interest rate hikes. The Fed will hold its next rate-setting meeting from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1.
Here in Canada, Jeff Tonken's Alberta Montney-focused Birchcliff Energy Ltd. (BIR) added 25 cents to $9.22 on 4.18 million shares, as it continued to bask in approval of yesterday's big dividend boost. The company is hiking its quarterly dividend all the way to 20 cents from two cents, for a yield of 8.7 per cent. Its chief executive officer, Mr. Tonken, headed to BNN yesterday to hype -- and defend -- the generous new payout.
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