Oil Prices Hit 2019 Highs, Weak Retail Sales Pressure Dollar

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1. Oil Prices Hit 2019 Highs, Weak Retail Sales Pressure Dollar
Brent crude oil prices hit 2019 highs above $65 per barrel on Friday, spurred by OPEC-led supply cuts, Russia’s oil output reductions, a power cable accident on Saudi Arabia’s largest offshore field and US mulling sanctions against Maduro and Venezuela. Specifically, Brent (CL_BRENT) rose as high as $65.10, pushing past the $65 mark for the first time this year, before edging back to $64.78 a barrel by 8:15 GMT up 0.3 percent from its last close. Meanwhile, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (USOIL) crude futures were at $54.70 per barrel, up 29 cents, or 0.6 percent, from their last settlement.*

2. GBP/USD Remains Vulnerable Near 1-Month Low
The GBP/USD pair remained depressed amid continued drama surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union and was further weighed down by the news that the pro-Brexit ERG has decided to abstain in today’s votes in Parliament and set the stage for a government defeat. The pair did get a minor bump from some US Dollar weakness, led by shockingly poor monthly retail sales data but was quickly sold into. However, the pair weakened further below the 1.2800 handle after the UK PM Theresa May’s government suffered yet another blow when the British Parliament rejected the revised Brexit deal. GBP/USD was last seen trading at 1.2799 as of 8:25 GMT this morning.**

3. Amazon Recovers Share Losses After Cancelling HQ2 Project In NYC
Amazon announced on Thursday that it has cancelled its HQ2 project for New York City, which caused the company’s stock to pare earlier declines. Shares were down as much as 2% earlier in the day and finished the day at 1,622.65, 1.06% lower than their last close, but still having significantly recovered from their late 2018 lows. In November, the tech giant said that it would split its new headquarters between the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, and the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia; in a move that would bring 25,000 jobs to both locations. Now the company said the New York plan has been completely scrapped but it will proceed plans in Northern Virginia.***

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*Source: Reuters, Feb 15, 2019 3:25 AM GMT
**Source: Investing, Feb 15, 2019 4:16 AM GMT
***Source: Business Insider Markets, Feb 15, 2019 3:03 AM ET

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