Thursday, November 6, 2014

3 Reasons Why U.S. Natural Gas Prices Will Remain Low

Summary

  • US natural gas prices should remain low over the next few years, unless we're on the cusp of a new ice age.
  • Associated gas production from liquids-rich plays continues to grow, while increased drilling efficiency, process innovation and improved completion techniques have enabled operators to extract more gas from fewer rigs.
  • An uptick in domestic demand and exports are still a ways off.
  • Overlooked shadow capacity in the Haynesville Shale and other plays will ensure that any meaningful increase in natural-gas prices is short-lived.
Despite persistent weakness, pundits continue to call false bottoms in natural gas prices and recommend shares of companies that produce primarily natural gas.
Far too many investors and talking heads were head-faked by the weather-driven spike in natural gas that occurred in early 2014, buying shares of Cabot Oil & Gas Corp (NYSE: COG) and other names with sizable acreage positions in the Marcellus Shale.
Here's why North American natural gas prices should remain low over the next two to three years.

Reason No. 1: US Natural Gas Production Remains Strong despite Low Prices

The investment media made a big deal about last winter's upsurge in natural gas prices, a phenomenon that stemmed from severely cold weather, not a lasting change in the underlying supply and demand conditions.
Many investors and media outlets focus on the spot market, where volumes are available for immediate delivery. This price benchmark is much more vulnerable to seasonal weather conditions.
In contrast, oil and gas producers focus on the 12-month strip, or the average cost of natural gas for delivery over the next year. This forward-looking benchmark smoothes out weather-related fluctuations and other temporary blips, providing better insight into the producer's full-year price realizations.

On this basis, North American natural gas prices have fluctuated around $4 per million British thermal units over the past four years, with the high and low end of this range marked by the no-show 2011-12 winter and the polar vortex earlier this year.
Plummeting natural gas prices from mid-2008 to late 2009 prompted many upstream operators to scale back drilling activity in the Haynesville Shale and other plays that primarily produce this out-of-favor commodity.
However, the decline in gas-directed drilling activity hasn't resulted in a commensurate decline in US production.

Prior the shale revolution, a decline in the number of active rigs targeting natural gas would translate into lower production - exactly what happened when drilling activity slumped from mid-2001 to mid-2002.
But the traditional relationship between the gas-directed rig count and production completely broke down in 2008.
Although the number of rigs targeting natural gas collapsed from more than 1,600 in mid-2008 to 310 units in April 2014, US production has soared from 57 billion cubic feet per day to 70 billion cubic feet per day in July 2014.
This divergence reflects two factors:
Producers ramping up drilling activity in liquids-rich plays that also yield significant volumes of crude oil and natural gas liquids; and
Huge gains in efficiency as producers hone their drilling and completion techniques and address supply-chain bottlenecks.
You can read more about these trends in Breaking Down the US Onshore Rig Count and Salute Your Drillmasters: Efficiency Gains Lower Production Costs.
As the energy industry has transitioned to pad drilling and optimized well designs and completion techniques, operators have produced more natural gas from fewer active rigs.

Over the past two years, output per rig has increased by more than 50 percent in the Marcellus Shale, effectively lowering producers' break-even costs to about $2 per million British thermal units in the play's liquids-rich fairway.

Source: Crestwood Midstream Partners LP
These efficiency gains, coupled with readily available credit and independent producers' imperative to grow their hydrocarbon output, mean that natural-gas prices near $4 per million British thermal units are no longer a disincentive to production.
But back in 2008, many producers needed natural gas to fetch $7 to $8 per million British thermal units to support drilling activity in higher-cost resource plays.
In addition, 15 percent to 20 percent of US natural gas production comes from oil wells, a figure that could increase in coming years as more gas-gathering and processing infrastructure comes onstream in the Bakken Shale.
Bottom Line: As long as crude oil remains above $70 per barrel, volumes of associated natural gas should continue to climb.
We also expect North American crude-oil output to remain more resilient than some expect because of hedging programs that lock in prices on future output and independent producers allocating more capital to core acreage that generates the best internal rates of return.

Reason No. 2: The Demand Response Won't Move the Needle Right Away

Over the past few years, energy companies have proposed the construction of more than 30 terminals to export liquefied natural gas (LNG). Thus far, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved only four projects - about 6 billion cubic feet per day - to move forward.
But the market itself will dictate how much LNG export capacity the US adds; given the capital intensity of these projects, only terminals that have secure volume commitments from customers will be able to obtain the necessary financing. (See Understanding the Appeal of US LNG Exports.)
The case for LNG exports is deceptively simple: Whereas the 12-month strip for US natural gas prices hovers around $3.60 per million British thermal units, this commodity fetches $9 per million British thermal units in Europe and $16 per million British thermal units in Asia.
When you factor in the $6 to $7 per million British thermal units that it would cost to liquefy and ship LNG from the Gulf Coast to Asia, these price advantages appear slightly less compelling. Liquefaction and shipping costs for cargoes headed to Europe are expected to range from $3 to $4 per million British thermal units.
Cheniere Energy Partners LP's (NYSE: CQP) Sabine Pass facility is slated to start exporting LNG from the US Gulf Coast in late 2015 or early 2016. More capacity will come onstream by 2020. By 2021, the US will also export more natural gas to Mexico and Canada via pipeline than it imports.
All told, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that the US will export about 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas annually by 2020 - about 7 percent of projected supplies.

The EIA's longer-term outlook contemplates the US exporting 5.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year and 37.5 trillion cubic feet in annual production. Although long-range projections in the energy patch should be taken with a grain of salt, US exports would account for only 15 percent of domestic output in this scenario.
And if US natural gas prices were to rally temporarily, the price advantage for customers in Asia and Europe would diminish, eroding demand in the international spot market.
Commentators who predict a surge in natural gas demand from electric utilities likewise overlook the scope that power producers have to switch between coal and natural gas at their plants, depending on which thermal fuel offers the best economics.
Natural gas consumption in the power sector spiked in 2012 after the no-show winter depressed the price of this commodity.
But electric utilities have reduced their natural gas consumption over the past two years. In July 2014, the power sector burned about 7.8 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas less than in 2012.

The catalysts for this trend: Depressed coal prices and natural gas prices that remained elevated after the severely cold 2013-14 winter, a situation that incentivized electric utilities to switch fuels.
In July 2014, US electricity demand fell 2.3 percent year over year because of a more than 12 percent drop in total cooling degree day. Natural gas consumption in the power sector tumbled 7.3 percent, while coal demand dropped 1.9 percent.
Stricter regulation of carbon dioxide emissions will lead to the shutdown of as much as 50 to 60 gigawatts of coal-fired generation capacity in the US-roughly 15 percent to 20 percent of the current fleet. About 30 gigawatts could be shuttered by the end of next year.
Although the anticipated reduction in coal-fired capacity will be offset by an increased reliance on natural gas, the 1 trillion cubic feet per annum in incremental demand that's expected to materialize by 2020 won't offset a 4.5 trillion cubic feet jump in annual production.

Reason No. 3: Overlooked Shadow Capacity

In the global crude-oil market, analysts pay close attention to OPEC's spare production capacity, or oil fields that could ramp up output quickly to offset a supply outage and rebalance the market.
Saudi Arabia controls much of this spare capacity and stepped up its output in 2011 to dampen the Libyan civil war's effect on global oil prices.
Similarly, North America boasts a number of prolific natural gas plays in which producers could accelerate drilling activity if prices were to climb to between $4.50 and $5 per million British thermal units.
Based on total reserves, Louisiana's Haynesville Shale is one of the largest gas plays in the US. However, this play has fallen out of favor because it produces negligible volumes of crude oil and natural gas liquids, higher-priced hydrocarbons that help to boost economics.
This unfavorable production mix explains why drilling activity in the Haynesville Shale slumped sharply after 2008 and gas production from this field had plummeted by almost one-third from its peak.
However, the Haynesville Shale's rig count and production levels appear to have bottomed last winter, suggesting that natural gas prices over $4.50 per million British thermal units would incentivize producers to accelerate drilling activity in the play's core region.
Most analysts estimate that natural gas prices of $5 per million British thermal units would enable producers to make money in the marginal portions of the Haynesville Shale.
The region already boasts sufficient pipeline and processing capacity to handle an increase in production, while its proximity to proposed export capacity on the Gulf Coast is another plus.
In short, any sustained upsurge in North American natural-gas prices would be stymied by an influx of output from the Haynesville Shale and other plays.
The current natural gas futures curve projects that prices generally will remain below $5 per million British thermal through at least the middle of the coming decade.

Futures market expectations for gas prices are lower today than they were a year ago; the rapid build in inventories has convinced the market that significant structural changes will need to take place to tighten the supply-demand balance for more than a month or two.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

一图揭秘油价下跌后的俄罗斯:中国损失百亿

一图揭秘油价下跌后的俄罗斯:中国损失百亿

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中国癌症调查:生存率远低于发达国家(图)

中国癌症调查:生存率远低于发达国家(图)

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中国癌症患者持续增加,生存状况却令人堪忧。近日,中国最大规模癌症生存数据汇总分析发布,数据显示中国癌症5年生存率为30.9%,远低于发达国家水平,同时农村患者的生存率仅约为城市患者的一半。

上述数据由中国国家癌症登记中心、癌症预防与控制办公室联合统计得出,并来源于17个分布在北京、大连等城市的以人群为基础的癌症登记处。此次调查所纳入的13.9万个病例,均于2003至2005年间诊断,随访至2010年底。

统计结果表明,中国年龄标准化后的全部癌症5年生存率为30.9%。同时,中国女性癌症患者生存率大体上高于男性,城市患者生存率 (39.5%)比农村患者(21.8%)高一倍。此外,通过26种不同癌症的分别统计,研究者们还发现,女性乳腺癌的生存率最高,达73.0%,结直肠癌 (47.2%)和胃癌(27.4%)次之,而肺癌和肝癌的生存率则相对较低,分别为16.1%及10.1%。

这样的结果,与欧美发达国家相比存在较大差距。中国肿瘤登记中心副教授张思维告诉财新记者,发达国家癌症患者的整体生存率远高于中国。以美国为例,美国全部癌症的5年生存率约为70%,高于中国约40%。

对此,张思维解释称,癌症患者生存率与社会的医疗水平及科研水平密切相关,而中国在这方面显然落后于发达国家。另外,中国患者的癌症种类构成与欧美国家有所不同,这也导致了生存率的差异。

在中国,肺癌、胃癌、肝癌等预后较差的癌症更为常见,这类癌症具有难发现、难治疗的特点。而在北美发达国家,预后较好的前列腺癌、乳腺癌占多数,发现得早,治疗效果比较理想。

张思维表示,中国患者多发胃癌、肝癌的原因是多方面的。一方面,随着社会物质水平的提高,越来越多的人染上了暴饮暴食、抽烟喝酒、熬夜的不良习惯,另一方面中国的环境污染也增加了人们患癌的风险。

张思维还指出,癌症患者的生存率调查对癌症的治疗防控有重大意义,但目前中国在这方面的有效数据还比较少。他在参与调查的过程中发现,中国的癌症登记工作自上世纪60年代就一直在进行,但目前能拿到有效数据的登记处不过40多个,“其中能做到随访的登记处就更少”。

尽管此次调查声称是中国“最大规模”的癌症生存数据汇总分析,但其样本的代表性还很有限。张思维表示,调查数据多来源于东南地区的登记处,今后的调查还需要扩展至中部、西部地区,才能更全面地反映中国癌症患者的生存状况。

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

油价大幅下跌,对美国经济可产生5大利好(图)

油价大幅下跌,对美国经济可产生5大利好(图)

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  北京时间10月27日消息,由于美国页岩油产出增长强劲以及其他非欧佩克地区供应上升,6月份以来原油价格大幅下跌,美国得克萨斯州中间基质原油(WTI)从107美元上方跌至80美元附近。油价大跌对美国经济可产生5大利好:
  1. 维持低通胀水平
  原油价格下跌推动美国汽油价格同步下跌,从而压低了整体通胀水平。根据美国公布的9月份消费者价格指数(CPI),整体通胀率环比仅上升 0.1%,其中能源价格环比下降0.7%功不可没,8月份为环比下降2.6%。汽油价格环比下降1.0%,8月份为环比下降4.1%。从同比来看,美国 CPI和核心CPI均为1.7%,通胀压力非常小。
  2. 降低通胀预期
  凯投宏观(Capital Economics)经济学家认为,油价下跌正在压低消费者以及市场的通胀预期,前者反映在密歇根大学的调查当中,后者由10年期通胀互换利率反映。联储在制定货币政策时也将通胀预期视为一个重要指标。
  3. 推升美国消费者信心
  毫无疑问,油价下跌能够提升美国家庭的消费信心。摩根大通(J.P. Morgan)经济学家估算,汽油价格每下跌10%,密歇根大学消费者信心指数将增加2个点。因此,尽管受到埃博拉、股市回调等负面影响,美国10月份密 歇根大学消费者信心指数初值依然意外升至86.4,创7年新高。
  4. 汽油消费下降、其他方面开支上升
  7-9月份汽油价格的下跌意味着美国加油站销售额下降将近9000亿美元,好消息是人们会增加其他方面的开支。虽然这一点还没有反映到9月份的数据中,但有可能在10月份或圣诞购物季的开支数据中表现出来。
  5. 降低美国贸易赤字
  美国依然是石油产品净进口国,而且占到总贸易赤字的很大一部分。油价下跌应该会降低9月份和10月份的贸易赤字,有助于美国经济增长。

Monday, October 27, 2014

Oil prices tumble; Goldman slashes forecast

Oil prices tumble; Goldman slashes forecast

Published: Oct 27, 2014 10:07 a.m. ET

Goldman sees $75/barrel-oil for most of 2015

Bloomberg
Oli tumbles on Monday.
By
Markets reporter

EricYep

MADRID (MarkeWatch) — Oil futures fell sharply on Monday, after Goldman Sachs slashed its forecast for prices, predicting West Texas Intermediate crude will prices will spend the better part of 2015 at $75 a barrel.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in December CLZ4, -0.65% slid $1.20, or 1.5%, to $79.79 a barrel. December Brent crude LCOZ4, -0.87%  on London’s ICE Futures exchange dropped $1.26, or 1.5%, to $84.88 a barrel.
Goldman analysts brought forward their medium-term bearish oil outlook, as they predicted WTI crude will average $75 a barrel for the first quarter of 2015 and the second half of 2015. That’s down nearly 17% from $90 a barrel, previously. They cut their Brent forecast by 15%, to $85 a barrel, from $100 a barrel, previously. The 2016 and long-term forecasts for those oil prices are $80 a barrel WTI and $90 a barrel for Brent.
The investment bank’s “confidence in a 2015 oversupplied global oil market has increased,” said lead analysts Damien Courvalin and Jeffery Currie, who gave three reasons for the downgrades to prices:
  • Accelerating growth from non-Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries outside of North America that will outpace demand growth, leaving the market flush with supply
  • Scale and sustainability of shale oil production that drives the global cost curve lower
  • OPEC no longer acting as first-mover swing producer, with shale oil output being called upon to fill that role.
Nymex West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil benchmark, has been down for four consecutive weeks, and Brent crude has posted losses for five weeks in a row.
Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at FOREX.com, said in emailed comments that Goldman’s bearish view has “nonetheless provided traders renewed confidence to sell oil at these already-depressed levels. The current fundamentals suggests that Goldman may well be correct. “
Another energy analyst, Commerzbank’s Carsten Fritsch, said he expected Brent and WTI would test their lows from last week but noted, “I did not expect it so quickly.”
For the rest of this week, financial markets will be focused on U.S. economic data and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision on its quantitative easing policy.
The strength of the U.S. dollar compared to other currencies would affect crude oil demand, analyst Daniel Ang at Phillip Futures said. “Considering the events in the week ahead, we expect to see the theme of this week’s crude prices to come from changes in the dollar index,” he added.
Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for November CLZ4, -0.65%  --the benchmark gasoline contract--fell 5 cents to $2.1808 a gallon.

Monday, October 20, 2014

油价暴跌俄损失巨大 中国机会来了

油价暴跌俄损失巨大 中国机会来了

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“阴谋随时都在上演。如果油价继续维持在每桶80美元左右太长时间,全球经济可能会因此崩溃。”俄罗斯总统普京的这番警告似乎在印证隔数年就会来上一次的 国际“石油战争”再度打响。几天来,国际原油期货价格逼近并一度跌破每桶80美元,而几个月前油价还高居107美元左右。油价如坐过山车般迅猛下跌,成为 国际金融大动荡的一大诱因。

与此同时,各种“阴谋论”四起,有人认为这是当年美国沙特联手迫使苏联计划经济破产的战略故伎重演;也有人认为这是沙特阻止美国页岩油气开采势头的“阻击 战”。无论如何,这次油价动荡令俄罗斯、伊朗以及委内瑞拉等石油出口国损失巨大,同时美欧等石油进口国享受每天约18亿美元的“意外之财”。《纽约时报》 称,油价持续下跌,“正符合美国和沙特的战略利益”。而德国《法兰克福汇报》则担心中国因此“坐上顺风车”,成为平衡世界石油价格的关键力量。

“在过去一个月大部分时间里,如果说全球金融和经济界有一个主导性议题的话,那就是石油价格的暴跌”。英国财经新闻网19日称,从今年夏天布伦特原油每桶115美元的高价算起,短短几个月内,油价暴跌的幅度就达30%。

石油风暴的风暴眼显然就是俄罗斯。俄罗斯《独立报》题为“石油摧毁”的文章直白地写道,近期国际油价大幅下跌是沙特和美国的一个阴谋。华盛顿希望进一步加 强对俄制裁,通过降低油价来破坏俄经济,迫使普京就范。报道称,能源出口一直是俄罗斯经济的重要支柱,它是俄罗斯最主要的外汇收入和预算资金来源。俄罗斯 今年的财政预算是以油价保持在每桶93美元制定的,而未来3年预算则是以油价每桶保持在约100美元制定的。因此,国际油价的持续下跌,无疑将直接打击俄 罗斯的经济。

俄塔社18日称,对于国际油价持续下跌的问题,俄总统普京前一天在亚欧峰会后表示,不排除一场针对俄罗斯、针对俄财政和经济状况的阴谋正在上演。他称: “说到阴谋论,阴谋随时都在上演。但阴谋家本身也会遭遇沉重打击。”普京说,如果原油价格在每桶80美元左右持续太长时间,全球经济也将因此崩盘。而做低 油价的手法会给美国的相关行业带来非常巨大的损失。普京称,俄罗斯拥有大量的外汇和黄金储备,可以应对油价下跌的影响。

《纽约时报》称,尽管俄罗斯有数百亿美元的外汇储备,但那里还是出现了紧张气氛。在日前举行的一次会议上,普京面对地方要钱的要求暴跳如雷,这表明石油收 入下降已经给俄罗斯带来了伤痛。报道称,这与普京早前回应西方经济制裁时的虚张声势明显不同,当时他对制裁不屑一顾,称这只不过是令人讨厌的小事一桩。

不仅是俄罗斯,美国另外两大传统“敌人”——伊朗和委内瑞拉近来的日子也不好过。法国《看板》杂志引述国际战略学者的话称,美国和沙特达成秘密协议,希望 借助“石油武器”打压伊朗和俄罗斯,从而迫使伊朗放弃核计划,令两国无法支持叙利亚巴沙尔政权。沙特石油和战略政策展望中心总裁拉希德承认,过去3个月油 价大幅下跌“与沙特的取舍不无关系”。报道认为,伊朗在遭受多年经济制裁后,需要石油出口收入维持预算平衡。与俄罗斯每桶原油100美元的盈亏平衡点相 比,伊朗一直认为国际油价不应低于135美元,这也是国际货币基金组织等机构推测的两国油价盈亏线。

95%的出口收入都来自石油的委内瑞拉上周紧急呼吁石油输出国组织(以下简称欧佩克)召开紧急会议,以回应油价猛烈下跌的问题。但其他成员国拒绝了这个请 求,理由是下月欧佩克将召开常规会议。委内瑞拉石油部长拉米雷斯声称这一切都是“阴谋”,因为“我们确定,下跌并非源于市场基本面,而是为了给产油大国制 造经济问题而进行的价格操纵。”

Monday, October 6, 2014

Brazil presidential vote headed for runoff

Brazil presidential vote headed for runoff

By Shasta Darlington, Catherine E. Shoichet and Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 10:22 PM EDT, Sun October 5, 2014
Watch this video

Brazil's economy ahead of elections

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: With more than 99% of votes counted, Dilma Rousseff has more than 41% of votes
  • NEW: Exit polls say she'll face Aecio Neves in a runoff
  • Rousseff is Brazil's first female President and was once a Marxist rebel
  • Neves, an economist, is a well known career politician who vows to fight inflation
Sao Paulo, Brazil (CNN) -- Brazil's presidential vote is headed for a runoff.
Preliminary election results from the South American country show President Dilma Rousseff in the lead. But she didn't get the majority necessary to win in the first round.
With more than 99% of votes counted, Rousseff had 41.56% of votes, Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court said. Aecio Neves was in second place with 33.60%. And Marina Silva was in third place with 21.30%.
Exit polls Sunday indicated there would be a runoff between Rousseff, the incumbent, and Neves, a center-right candidate. In a poll conducted by the Ibope public research firm, Rousseff won 44% of votes, Neves won 30% and Silva won 22%.
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Silva, an environmentalist candidate for the Brazilian Socialist Party, had gained momentum and backing from a growing number of supporters leading up to the vote, with polls before the election placing her in second place.
She joined the race after candidate Eduardo Campos died in a plane crash and was seen as a political outsider who could combat corruption. But while she succeeded in gaining much broader support that polls had initially predicted for her party, her third-place finish puts her out of the running for the presidency.
Rousseff, 66, was once a Marxist rebel who was allegedly tortured in the early 1970s during Brazil's former dictatorship.
With her trademark pixie-short hair style and thick glasses, she became one of most Brazil's most wanted fugitives, branded by some as a "subversive Joan of Arc."
She has a solid track record in running the executive office. Before becoming the country's first female president in 2011, Rousseff, from the Workers' Party, was chief of staff to former President Lula da Silva.
She democratized Brazil's electricity sector through the "Luz Para Todos" (Light for All) program, which made electricity widely available, even in rural areas.
Rousseff presided over the soccer World Cup in Brazil, but she took a lot of political flack over how public money was spent.
Streets filled with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators questioning the morality of pumping so much money into stadiums instead of programs to fight poverty and build infrastructure.
Rousseff defended the spending, saying the vast majority of funds earmarked for infrastructure projects were spent on projects for the nation, not the soccer tournament.
And Rousseff claims that under the presidencies of her predecessor and herself, masses of Brazilians have risen out of poverty.
"We have also mainstreamed into the middle class no less than 42 million people," she has said.
But inflation is now weighing down that progress.
Neves, a 54-year-old economist, is a well-known name and a career politician. His campaign slogan promises reforms to lower inflation and encourage more investment in the country: "The sure path for Brazil to really change."
The pro-business candidate belongs to the Brazilian Social Democratic Party, one of the country's strongest.
His grandfather, Tancredo Neves, was elected to become Brazil's president in 1985 but died before taking office. Neves says he began his political career campaigning at his grandfather's side.
"What motivates me in politics is an enormous love of Brazil, a limitless desire to see things improve, to see Brazil go the right way," he says in a campaign video.
While he'd been trailing in some polls leading up to the election, Neves said the only poll that mattered was Sunday's official vote.
"Let's get to the second round," he said in a YouTube video on Saturday.
Both Rousseff and Neves thanked supporters in speeches Sunday night.
Rousseff has promised her second term will be different, running under the slogan of "New Government, New Ideas."
"Once again, the people have honored me with their trust by giving me victory in the first round," she said.
A video posted on Neves' Twitter feed Sunday night showed cheering supporters carrying him as cameras flashed.
This has been one of the tightest election competitions in recent years, and it's likely to intensify in the coming weeks, with both candidates vying for the votes that went to Silva in the first round.
There will be three more weeks of campaigning before the runoff.