Oil prices inch up on faith in supply cuts, demand recovery

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 14 cents, or 0.4%, to $38.98 a barrel at 0101 GMT.
  • Brent crude futures crawled up 7 cents, or 0.2%, to $41.58 a barrel. Both contracts rose around 2% on Thursday.

Oil prices pushed higher in early trade on Friday, building on gains in the previous session, after OPEC producers and allies promised to meet their supply cut commitments and two major oil traders said demand was recovering well.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 14 cents, or 0.4%, to $38.98 a barrel at 0101 GMT, while Brent crude futures crawled up 7 cents, or 0.2%, to $41.58 a barrel. Both contracts rose around 2% on Thursday.

Plans by Iraq and Kazakhstan to compensate for overproduction in May on their supply cut commitments supported the market. The promises came out of a meeting by a panel monitoring compliance by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a grouping called OPEC+.

If the laggard producers do compensate over the next three months for their overproduction, that will effectively take extra barrels out of the market, even if OPEC+ does not extend its record 9.7 million barrels per day supply cut beyond July.

Comments from global oil traders Vitol and Trafigura on a rebound in oil demand in June, reported by Bloomberg, also buoyed the market, ANZ Research said.

Trading volumes on Friday, however, were thin, which pointed to a lack of conviction behind any big push higher, said CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy.

On the technical side, he pointed to strong resistance in the WTI contract between $40 and $41. Analysts see that level as the point at which more U.S. producers will revive shut-in wells.

“That militates against aggressive long side trading,” McCarthy said.

Oil drops as new coronavirus outbreaks raise fuel demand concerns

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude futures fell 89 cents, or 2.3%, to $37.84 a barrel by 0302 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down $1.18, or 3.3%, to $35.08 a barrel.
  • The oil benchmarks fell about 8% last week, their first weekly declines since April.
An aerial view shows pumpjacks in the South Belridge Oil Field on April 24, 2020 near McKittrick, California.
An aerial view shows pumpjacks in the South Belridge Oil Field on April 24, 2020 near McKittrick, California.
David McNew | Getty Images

Oil fell more than 2% on Monday, extending losses from last week, as new coronavirus infections hit China and the United States, raising the prospect that renewed outbreaks of the virus could weigh on the recovery of fuel demand.

Brent crude futures fell 89 cents, or 2.3%, to $37.84 a barrel by 0302 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down $1.18, or 3.3%, to $35.08 a barrel.

A cluster of infections in Beijing has increased concern of a resurgence of the disease. The coronavirus pandemic started at the end of last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The oil benchmarks fell about 8% last week, their first weekly declines since April, as U.S. coronavirus cases started increasing. Over the weekend, more than 25,000 new U.S. cases were reported on Saturday alone as more states reported record new infections and hospitalizations.

“The recovery in oil demand is already set to be a lengthy process, and a fresh wave of cases will certainly raise worries that a recovery in demand may take even longer than initially thought,” ING Economics said in a note.

Industrial output in China, the world’s biggest crude oil importer, rose for a second consecutive month in May but the rise was smaller than expected, suggesting the world’s second-biggest economy is struggling to get back on track after containing the coronavirus.

The country’s refineries increased their throughput in May by 8.2% more than the same period a year ago to about 13.6 million barrels per day (bpd), government data showed.

An OPEC-led monitoring panel will meet on Thursday to discuss ongoing record production cuts and see whether countries have delivered their share of the reductions, but will not make any decision, according to five OPEC+ sources.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, have been reducing supplies by 9.7 million bpd, about 10% of pre-pandemic demand, and agreed in early June to extend the cuts for a month until end-July.

Iraq, one of the laggards in complying with the curbs, agreed with its major oil companies to cut crude production further in June, Iraqi officials working at the fields told Reuters on Sunday.

The country’s oil minister later said it would export an average of 2.8 million bpd in June.

Oil prices fall further as threat of Middle East war recedes

CNBC

Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude fell 20 cents, or 0.3%, at $65.17 by 0240 GMT, and is heading for its first decline in six weeks, down 5%.
  • WTI was down 20 cents, or 0.3%, at $59.36 and also on track for a first weekly drop in six, nearly 6% from last Friday’s close based on the latest prices.
  • Oil is now below where it was before a U.S. drone strike killed a top Iranian general on Jan. 3.
Syria Oil Field 191027 EC
Oil pump jacks pump oil in Al-Jbessa oil field in Al-Shaddadeh town of Al-Hasakah governorate April 2, 2010.
Stringer | Reuters

Oil prices dropped on Friday extending days of losses as the threat of war in the Middle East receded and investors  switched attention to economic growth prospects and the rise in U.S. crude oil and product inventories.

Brent crude fell 20 cents, or 0.3%, at $65.17 by 0240 GMT, and is heading for its first decline in six weeks, down 5%. WTI was down 20 cents, or 0.3%, at $59.36 and also on track for a first weekly drop in six, nearly 6% from last Friday’s close based on the latest prices.

Oil is now below where it was before a U.S. drone strike killed a top Iranian general on Jan. 3, with Iran responding with a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi air bases hosting U.S. forces this week that left no casualties.

“Although markets are rightly pricing in a lower risk of … supply-side disruptions in the Middle East, we still think there remains some ongoing risk to output from geopolitical issues in the region,” J.P.Morgan said in a commodities note.

A Ukrainian airliner that crashed in Iran in the early hours of Wednesday after Iran launched the attacks on the bases in Iraq, was likely brought down by an Iranian missile, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

All the nearly 180 passengers on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight to Kiev from Tehran died in the crash. Iran denied it was hit by a missile.

For now though oil investors are focusing on areas away from the conflict.

Crude stocks in the world’s biggest producer rose against forecast last week and gasoline inventories were up by the most in a week in four years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

“There’s too much supply out there,” a Japan-based based oil executive told Reuters.

Oil prices jump 2% in early trading as tensions in the Middle East mount, Brent crude tops $70

Oil prices jumped more than 2% during Sunday night trading — building on Friday’s gains — as tensions in the Middle East escalated over the weekend.

Following Thursday’s death of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, on Sunday an Iranian state-run television broadcast said that the nation would no longer respect uranium enrichment restrictions set forth in 2015′s nuclear deal.

International benchmark Brent crude gained 2.3% to trade at $70.18 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate climbed 2.1% to $64.38 per barrel.

On Friday Brent hit a more than three month high of $69.50, before settling at $68.60. Meantime WTI rose to a session high of $64.09 — its highest level since April — before pulling back to settle at $63.05, for a gain of 3.06%.

Iran has vowed to retaliate against the U.S., and the form that this retaliation takes will determine oil’s next move, according to Wall Street analysts. For instance, if the nation targets production in Saudi Arabia or Iraq — OPEC’s two largest producers — prices could move higher for longer.

On Friday, Citi global head of commodity research Ed Morse said that Brent prices will top $70 in short order, while Again Capital’s John Kilduff said that if Iraq production takes a hit “oil prices will spike higher.”

Iraq is OPEC’s second largest oil producer, pumping around 4.6 million barrels per day in December. On Sunday the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for an expulsion of foreign troops, which raises question about the future of the allied mission that has successfully fought the “Islamic State,” or ISIS, in recent years.

VIDEO03:02
Oil prices jump after US airstrike killed Iran top commander—Four experts on how it affects energy

Helima Croft, RBC’s global head of commodity research, noted that in the past a geopolitical event of this nature would have caused a larger spike in oil, which demonstrates how resilient prices have become to geopolitical tensions.

This resiliency was on display in September after drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais took an estimated 5.7 million barrels of oil offline. While oil initially spiked 8% and climbed higher, prices ultimately drifted back down and a few weeks later were back at pre-attack levels after Saudi Aramco quickly restored production.

But this time around prices could stay elevated for longer, given tight supply and a historically weak part of the year for oil.

On Friday Eurasia Group raised its 2020 high-end base case oil target to $75 per barrel, based on “rising risk to oil infrastructure in the region.” If conflict breaks out, which the firm’s Middle East and North Africa head of research Ayham Kamel places at 30% likelihood, prices could climb as high as $95.

Citi said that other possible retaliations could be “attacks on pipeline oil flows or shipping through either the Strait of Hormuz or the Red Sea,” through which more than a fifth of the world’s oil supply flows.

Thursday’s airstrike comes following an especially strong fourth quarter for oil, which saw OPEC+ announce deeper-than-expected production cuts in December, and as easing trade tensions led to upbeat outlooks for demand.

WTI gained 10.68% in December — its best month since January 2019 — and 12.93% for the quarter. It’s 34.46% gain for the year was its best since 2016. Brent gained 5.7% in December and 8.59% for the quarter. It also had its best year since 2016, gaining 22.68%.

Carter Braxton Worth from Cornerstone Macro said WTI looks set to reach $72 per barrel, and that investors should “embrace” the pop. “It will be right to play energy stocks on the long side in the weeks/months again,” he said in a note to clients Sunday.

That said, analysts at Morgan Stanley said that “any further escalation could keep oil prices supported in the short term,” but that any gains could be short lived. The firm said it sees Brent closer to $60 rather than $70 for the year given “an oversupplied oil market in 2020 as a whole.”

– CNBC’s Michael BloomAmanda Macias and Spencer Kimball contributed to this report.

Oil edges up on trade optimism, eyes on Middle East tensions

CNBC

Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures edged up 5 cents to $61.77 a barrel by 0529 GMT. The U.S. benchmark is up about 36% so far this year.
  • Brent crude futures were at $68.36 a barrel, up 20 cents, or 0.3%.
GP: Iran Salman Oil Field 190422
Workers cross walkways between zones aboard an offshore oil platform in the Persian Gulf’s Salman Oil Field, near Lavan island, Iran, on Jan. 5. 2017.
Ali Mohammadi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Oil prices traded at three-month highs on Monday, underpinned by optimism over an expected U.S.China trade deal, while traders kept a close eye on the Middle East following a U.S. air strike.

Markets showed little initial reaction to news of the U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria against an Iran-backed militia group, even as U.S. officials warned “additional actions” may be taken.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures edged up 5 cents to $61.77 a barrel by 0529 GMT. The U.S. benchmark is up about 36% so far this year.

Brent crude futures were at $68.36 a barrel, up 20 cents, or 0.3%. The international benchmark has risen around 27% in 2019.

″(Trading) has been relatively flat due to lack of market participants in the holiday season,” said market analyst Margaret Yang of CMC Markets.

“Oil prices have reached their highest level since the Saudi oil field attack in Mid Sep, and thus traders are also cautious about profit-taking possibilities,” she added.

On Sunday, China’s Commerce Ministry said it is in close touch with the United States on the signing of a long-awaited trade deal.

The two countries on Dec. 13 announced a “Phase one” agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for what U.S. officials said would be a big jump in Chinese purchases of American farm products and other goods.

Oil prices were also supported by declining U.S. crude stocks which fell by 5.5 million barrels in the week to Dec. 20, far exceeding a 1.7-million-barrel drop forecast in a Reuters poll.

In the Middle East, the United States carried out air strikes on Sunday in Iraq and Syria against the Kataib Hezbollah militia group, while protesters in Iraq on Saturday forced the closure of its southern Nassiriya oilfield.

U.S. officials said the air strikes in response to the killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base were successful, but warned that “additional actions” may still be taken.

Iraq’s oil ministry said the production halt at the Nassiriya oilfield will not affect the country’s exports as it will use additional output from southern oilfields in Basra.

Elsewhere, Libyan state oil firm NOC said it is considering the closure of its western Zawiya port and evacuating staff from the refinery located there due to clashes nearby.

However, the holiday season meant “oil will continue to struggle for meaningful moves,” said Edward Moya, analyst at brokerage OANDA.