Oil prices jump as sharp falls draw investors, bargain buyers

CNBC

Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude was up by 1.8%, or 55 cents, to $30.60 a barrel by 0410 GMT, after hitting a high of $31.25.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 3.7%, or $1.06, to $29.76, having come off a high of $30.21.
GP: Oil production facilities 200205 ASIA
A kayaker passes in front of an offshore oil platform in the Guanabara Bay in Niteroi, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020.
Dado Galdieri | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Oil rose more than $1 on Tuesday as bargain hunters emerged after recent sharp falls due to the coronavirus pandemic and the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, but fears of a recession still dragged on the market.

Brent crude was up by 1.8%, or 55 cents, to $30.60 a barrel by 0410 GMT, after hitting a high of $31.25.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 3.7%, or $1.06, to $29.76, having come off a high of $30.21.

“Presumably, the market is getting supported by physical bargain hunters and short covering,” said Stephen Innes, chief markets strategist at AxiCorp.

The United States has said it will take advantage of low oil prices to fill its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), and other countries and companies are planning similar measures to fill storage tanks.

“But those storage facilities are rapidly filling. If storage does fill, quashing that demand, oil prices are sure to collapse further, and the global markets will then have to hope that the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Russia is resolved before we reach that point of no return,” Innes said.

Amid heavy demand loss from the global spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, Saudi Arabia and Russia started a price war after failing to agree to extend their pact to cut output to support the market.

Saudi Aramco has said it would likely carry over its planned higher oil output for April into May, and that it was “very comfortable” with an oil price of $30 a barrel.

“A deeply imbalanced supply and demand outlook has not changed as Saudi and Russia have ramped up production in a time when global energy demand is badly hurt by border controls and travel bans,” said Margaret Yang of CMC Markets.

Countries including the United States and Canada, and nations in Europe and Asia, are taking unprecedented steps to contain the virus, severely crippling demand for crude and refined products including gasoline and jet fuel.

Gasoline refining margins in the United States, the world’s largest consumer of the motor fuel, plunged around 95% on Monday, briefly turning negative, as people stayed off the roads.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said economic disruptions from the spread of the coronavirus and measures taken against it could lead to a recession.

In Asia, margins for transportation fuels also plunged to multi-year or multi-month lows after more countries imposed travel restrictions and curbed domestic movements as part of measures to slow down spread of the coronavirus.

Oil slips from five-month highs as economic worries counter tight market

CNBC

Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • International benchmark Brent futures touched their strongest level since last November at $71.34 per barrel on Tuesday, before losing ground to $70.96 per barrel by 0158 GMT, down 14 cents, or 0.2%, from their last close.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures also hit a November 2018 high, at $64.77 per barrel, before easing to $64.36, 4 cents below their last settlement.
RT: Offshore oil rig Norway 160211
An offshore oil rig off the coast of Norway.
Nerijus Adomaitis | Reuters

Oil prices eased on Tuesday, slipping away from 5-month highs reached earlier in the session as a sluggish economic outlook countered an otherwise tight market.

International benchmark Brent futures touched their strongest level since last November at $71.34 per barrel on Tuesday, before losing ground to $70.96 per barrel by 0158 GMT, down 14 cents, or 0.2%, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures also hit a November 2018 high, at $64.77 per barrel, before easing to $64.36, 4 cents below their last settlement.

Despite generally bullish oil markets, concerns that an economic slowdown this year will hit fuel consumption have been preventing crude prices from rising even higher, traders said.

And while fears of a global recession ebbed following strong U.S. jobs figures and improved Chinese manufacturing data late last week, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said there was still a “significant slowing in growth globally” in 2019.

The bank said it expects Brent and WTI to average $70 per barrel and $59 per barrel respectively in 2019, and $65 per barrel and $60 per barrel in 2020.

Despite the economic concerns, global oil markets are tight, and Brent and WTI crude oil futures have risen by 40% and 30% respectively since the start of the year.

“Renewed fighting in Libya … has seen Brent crude break above $70 per barrel, ” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

Libya is a significant supplier of oil to Europe, producing around 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in March.

A warplane attacked Tripoli’s only functioning airport on Monday as eastern forces advancing on the Libyan capital disregarded international appeals for a truce in the latest of a cycle of warfare since Muammar Gaddafi’s fall in 2011.

Hansen said the fighting in Libya added to an already tense market, which has been tightened this year by U.S. sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuelaas well as supply cuts led by the producer club of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).