In a week that saw heightened focus on the European Central Bank, the price of Brent crude oil, measured in barrels of 159 liters, surged past the $94 mark on Friday, reigniting speculation of a return to the coveted $100 threshold.
The surge is attributed to a combination of soaring global demand and production limitations in oil powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Russia. According to Bloomberg reports, since mid-June, crude oil prices have risen by a staggering 30%. Notably, in the Netherlands, only a handful of stations offer gasoline below €2 per liter, with the national average hovering around €2.29, as reported by UnitedConsumers. This marks a significant hike from December of the previous year, when prices were at €1.85.
This surge, while a boon for oil-producing nations, may spell trouble for inflation rates worldwide. Expensive oil has the potential to trigger a surge in prices, leaving central banks with a pressing dilemma. This development comes at a critical juncture when it seemed peak interest rates had nearly plateaued.
The AEX index in Amsterdam recorded a modest 0.3% increase this week, closing at 741.51 points, in stark contrast to the nearly 15% surge in the MSCI World Index. This indicates a prolonged period of lateral movement in the stock market.
Shell emerged as one of the week’s biggest gainers in the AEX, riding the wave of the escalating oil prices. The share price even breached the €30 mark, a milestone unseen since October 2018. Other notable performers included ASR (up 7%), Aegon (4%), and the new major Philips shareholder, Exor (nearly 6%), which pledged to repurchase €1 billion worth of its own shares this week. Conversely, the semiconductor sector saw significant losses, particularly ASMI and Besi.
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