Business briefs: Limerick oil company circling Morocco
LIMERICK-based Circle Oil has began a 12-well drilling programme in Morocco. The first well broke ground in recent days and has two main targets with an estimated combined resource of 2.8 bn cubic feet of gas. Circle, which has operations in Egypt and Morocco and licences in Tunisia and Oman, is currently producing 7m standard cubic feet of gas per day from its existing Moroccan licences.
US GAS GAINS
FASTER-than-expected gains in US natural gas inventories are easing concern that a shortage is looming next winter. Money managers' net-long position fell 9.1pc last week to the lowest level since December, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission said. Bearish wagers are the highest in more than four months. Gas futures fell 9.2pc in the period as stockpile gains topped analysts' forecasts for a third week.
FRESH GOLD AGREEMENT
EUROPEAN central banks made a fourth gold agreement, without a cap on sales for the first time. The European Central Bank and 20 others said they currently do not have any plans to dispose of "significant" amounts of gold, without giving a limit. Banks agreed to cap sales at 400 tonnes of the metal a year through September 2014, and no more than 500 tonnes a year in the pact that expired in September 2009.
FED'S NEW BROOMS
THE two new nominees to the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors are expected to push for an expanded Fed role in managing the US economy. The arrival of former Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and former US Treasury official Lael Brainard will add two strong voices to Chair Janet Yellen's view that loose monetary policy needs to be extended. Fischer intervened directly in Israel's mortgage market to tackle a real estate bubble, while Brainard pushed for aggressive action from the European Central Bank in the eurozone crisis.
ALLIANZ IN BONDS RISK
EUROPE'S biggest insurer Allianz has begun applying a notional charge in its accounts to reflect the risk of holding government bonds as investments, drawing a lesson from the euro zone debt crisis that may prompt others to follow suit. Government bonds, which account for the lion's share of insurers' investments, are treated as risk-free by regulators. But the fallacy of that position became clear when the spectre of default threatened a number of European countries in the wake of the financial crisis.