Monday, October 19, 2015

Saudi crude stockpile at record high; Morgan Stanley profit drops 42%; Learnings for workplace from standup comedy

1 Saudi crude stockpiles at record high (Khaleej Times) Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, is storing record amounts of crude in its quest to maintain market share as it cut shipments. 
Commercial crude stockpiles in August rose to 326.6 million barrels, the highest since at least 2002, from 320.2 million barrels in July. Exports dropped to seven million barrels a day from 7.28 million.

"The fall in Saudi crude exports reflects the market reality," Mohammed Ramady, an independent London-based analyst, said. "It's normal to see this fall knowing that the market is becoming highly competitive, with many countries in Opec selling at discounts and under-pricing the Saudi crude."

Crude inventories have been at record highs since May, a month before Saudi Arabia's production hit an all-time high of 10.56 million barrels a day. The nation has led the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in boosting production to defend market share, abandoning its previous role of cutting output to boost prices.

Brent crude oil prices have slid 13 per cent this year as Saudi Arabia led Opec in boosting production to defend the group's market share amid a global supply glut. Brent futures for December settlement dropped 1.5 per cent to $49.69 a barrel in London on Monday.

Saudi Arabia cut back oil production in August to 10.27 million barrels a day from 10.36 million in July. The kingdom told Opec that it produced 10.23 million barrels daily in September. It pumped at an all-time high of 10.56 million barrels a day in June, exceeding a previous record from 1980.

2 Morgan Stanley profit drops 42% (BBC) Profits for US investment bank Morgan Stanley slumped in the third quarter as revenues for commodity, bond and foreign exchange trading fell. Net profit fell 42%, to $939m, from $1.63bn for the same three-month period a year ago, the bank's second consecutive quarterly drop. Net sales fell 13% to $7.77bn, missing analyst estimates of $8.5bn.

Rivals Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have all reported dips in trading revenue. During the three months to the end of September oil prices slumped and investors speculated over when the Federal Reserve will raise rates. It was also the time the Chinese stock market collapsed in value.

Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its forecast for global economic growth for 2015 to 3.1% from the 3.3% it predicted in July. The 2016 forecast is down to 3.6% from 3.8%. Last week, rival banking giant Goldman Sachs reported a sharp fall in profits as its trading activity stalled.

Goldman's quarterly profits were $1.43bn, down more than a third on a year earlier. The results contrasted sharply with those of Citigroup, which posted a 50% jump in profits, to $4.29bn.

3 Learnings for workplace from standup comedy (Liz Fraser in The Guardian) The one thing I’ve always wanted to do is standup comedy. Talk to anyone who’s done standup, and they will tell you that it’s the most terrifying thing you can do (I assume these people haven’t worked down a 200-ft mine, defused any bombs or had lunch with my mother.)

It’s especially difficult if you have no previous experience and have just booked yourself 25 solo one hour shows in one of the main venues of the biggest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh fringe. So that’s what I did.

These are the life lessons that I learned from my nerve-wracking month of comedy: Slow Down. In standup, an hour is a very long time. It’s not sixty minutes. When it’s going badly, an hour lasts for at least a week. When it’s going well … I’ll get back to you on that one when it’s happened to me.

Don’t judge yourself by your audience’s reaction. If they’re not laughing it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t think it’s funny, it just means they’re not laughers. I suppose it might mean that they think you’re rubbish, but the best advice here is to never ask. Just go home, have a hot bath, and high-five yourself in the mirror.

Fake it. Confident people are really just people who are good at appearing more confident than anyone else. It doesn’t mean they are. Filler techniques. All comedians and public speakers have their own fillers. Some take a sip of water, while others fiddle nonchalantly with the microphone lead.

The eyebrows have it. Successful performance, whether it’s a comedy show or a board-level presentation, is all about delivery. You can have the best speech in the world, but it can be totally ruined by a poor delivery. I’ve been to standup shows where 80% of the humour came from the comedian’s facial expressions and delivery. The material itself was average, but the show was great. For some reason, eyebrows seem to be key.

Have killer first and last lines. What happens in between is dictated by the first lines and remembered by the last. It’s the same in a three minute broadcast interview or a 10 hour talk. Your lines must be well prepared, concise, and delivered confidently. Thank you. And good night.

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