Oil drops nearly 2 percent, breaking 9-day win streak amid global growth concern

CNBC

  • Oil prices fall nearly 2 percent on Friday, but post solid weekly gains.
  • Investors remain concerned about a slew of recent economic data that has raised worries about a global economic slowdown.
  • Hopes the United States and China may soon resolve their trade dispute and tightened supply following OPEC-led crude production cuts are supporting oil prices.

Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.

Oil prices fell about 2 percent on Friday amid worries about a global economic slowdown, but futures ended the week higher, keeping some gains from a week-long rally spurred by U.S.-China trade hopes.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures ended Friday’s session down $1, or 1.9 percent, at $51.59 a barrel. Brent crude futures fell $1.15, or 1.9 percent, to $60.53 a barrel, around 2:30 p.m. ET.

Friday’s pullback marked the end of a nine-day winning streak for crude futures, the best string of gains since January 2010 for WTI and April 2007 for Brent.

Still, both benchmarks posted their second week of gains, with WTI rising about 7.5 percent and Brent up 6 percent.

Markets were supported earlier this week by hopes that an all-out trade war between Washington and Beijing might be averted. Three days of talks concluded on Wednesday with no concrete announcements, but higher-level discussions may convene later this month.

Paul Sankey on oil's rebound

Paul Sankey on oil’s rebound  

“Some of the strength that we’ve gotten from that seems to be coming out of the market,” Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

“Right now I think the market is in a holding pattern above our recent lows and it’s looking for its next driver,” McGillian said.

Investors remained concerned about a slew of recent economic data that has raised worries about a global economic slowdown.

China plans to set a lower economic growth target of 6-6.5 percent in 2019 compared with last year’s target of “around” 6.5 percent, policy sources told Reuters, as Beijing gears up to cope with higher U.S. tariffs and weakening domestic demand.

“If we experience an economic slowdown, crude will underperform due to its correlation to growth,” said Hue Frame, portfolio manager at Frame Funds in Sydney.

On the supply side, oil markets have received support from supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. The deal is aimed at reining in a glut that emerged in the second half of 2018.

Lower oil exports from Iran since November, when U.S. resumed sanctions against the OPEC producer, have also supported crude.

Pick energy names you know, says Stacey Gilbert

Pick energy names you know, says Stacey Gilbert  

Iran will see its crude exports severely curtailed for a third month in January, according to tanker data and industry sources.

Playing a key part in the emerging glut was the United States, where crude oil production has soared to a record 11.7 million barrels per day.

Consultancy JBC Energy this week said it was likely that U.S. crude production was “significantly above 12 million bpd” by this month.

U.S. energy firms, however, this week cut four oil rigs, the second week of declines, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said, as producers turned conservative in their 2019 drilling plans due to uncertainty over a recovery in crude prices.

— CNBC’s Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.

Oil falls 1 percent on swelling US supply, concerns on US-China trade talks

CNBC

  • Both U.S. and Brent crude futures slipped around 1 percent.
  • Both oil benchmarks had risen around 5 percent the previous day, as financial markets around the world surged on the hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon be able to end their ongoing trade dispute.

Oil refinery and storage Australia

Jason Reed | Reuters

Oil prices fell by about 1 percent on Thursday on swelling U.S. supply and amid a cautious reaction to trade talks between the United States and China, the world’s two largest oil consumers, that finished without concrete details to ending their dispute.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $51.80 per barrel at 0432 GMT, down 56 cents, or 1.1 percent, from their last settlement.

International Brent crude futures were down 0.9 percent, or 57 cents, at $60.87 per barrel.

Both oil benchmarks rose by around 5 percent the previous day as financial markets around the world surged on the hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon be able to end their trade dispute, soothing fears of an all-out trade war between the two biggest economies and its possible impact on global growth.

By Thursday, however, the positive feelings ebbed because of a lack of a details on the talks despite a warm statement form China on the outcome, and financial markets took a breather from the rally.

Vandana Hari of consultancy Vanda Insights in Singapore said in a note that oil prices dropped “as optimism fuelled by the U.S.-China trade talks earlier in the week appeared to have run its course and official statements after the conclusion of three days of negotiations, while indicating modest progress, lacked details.”

Meanwhile, U.S. bank Morgan Stanley cut its 2019 oil price forecasts by more than 10 percent on Wednesday, pointing to “weakening economic growth expectations” and rising oil supply from especially from the United States as reasons for their lower price forecast.

Morgan Stanley now expects Brent to average $61 a barrel this year, down from a previous estimate of $69 a barrel, and U.S. crude to average $54 per barrel, against a prior forecast of $60.

The main source of new supply is the United States, where crude oil production remained at a record 11.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in the week ending Jan. 4, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

That has resulted in swelling fuel inventories.

Gasoline stocks rose 8.1 million barrels, to 248.1 million barrels, marking the largest weekly rise since December 2016, the EIA said. Distillate stocks swelled by 10.6 million barrels, to 140.04 million barrels.

Although crude stocks dipped by 1.7 million barrels, to 439.74 million barrels, they remained above their five-year seasonal average of 435 million barrels.

The surge in U.S. crude production runs counter to efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut supply aimed at reining an emerging glut.

“Balancing the market would require OPEC discipline to continue well into 2020,” Morgan Stanley said.

Oil prices rise on trade talk optimism, OPEC cuts

CNBC

  • Both Brent and U.S. crude futures saw gains of at least 0.7 percent.
  • Asian stock markets rose as investors hope Washington and Beijing will reach some sort of agreement.

Oil prices rose on Tuesday on hopes that U.S.-Chinese talks in Beijing would bring a halt to trade disputes between the world’s biggest economies, while OPEC-led supply cuts tightened markets.

International Brent crude futures were at $57.77 per barrel at 0113 GMT, up 44 cents, or 0.8 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $48.85 per barrel, up 33 cents, or 0.7 percent.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said late on Monday that Beijing and Washington could reach a trade deal that “we can live with” as dozens of officials from the world’s two largest economies held talks in a bid to end their trade dispute that has roiled global markets since last year.

Asian stock markets rose as investors hope Washington and Beijing will reach some sort of agreement.

Despite optimism around the talks in Beijing, some analysts warned that the relationship between Washington and Beijing remained on shaky grounds, and that tensions could flare up again soon.

“We remain concerned about the world’s most important bilateral relationship,” political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in its 2019 outlook.

“The U.S. political establishment believes engagement with Beijing is no longer working, and it’s embracing an openly confrontational approach … (and) rising nationalist sentiment makes it unlikely that Beijing will ignore U.S. provocations,” Eurasia Group said.

Beyond politics, oil markets are being supported by supply cuts started late last year by a group of producers around the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as non-OPEC member Russia.

“Crude oil prices have benefited from OPEC production cuts and steadying equities markets,” said Mithun Fernando, investment analyst at Australia’s Rivkin Securities.

Looming over the OPEC-led cuts, however, is a surge in U.S. oil supply, driven by a steep rise in onshore shale oil drilling and production.

As a result, U.S. crude oil production rose by a whopping 2 million barrels per day (bpd) last year to a world record 11.7 million bpd.

With drilling activity still high, most analysts expect U.S. oil production to rise further this year.

Consultancy JBC Energy said it was likely that U.S. crude oil production was already “significantly above 12 million bpd” by early January.

US crude rises 1.9%, settling at $47.96, as trade talks and supply cuts boost oil prices

CNBC

  • Oil prices rise after China said it would hold trade talks with the United States.
  • Crude futures extend gains as the stock market rallies on a strong U.S. jobs report and supportive comments from the Federal Reserve chair.
  • The Energy Information Administration reports U.S. crude stocks were little changed last week, but gasoline and distillate inventories rose sharply.

174362712AB024_OIL_BOOM_SHI

Andrew Burton | Getty Images

Oil prices rose on Friday after proposed trade talks between the United States and China eased some fears about a global economic slowdown, but gains were capped after the United States reported a sharp build in refined product inventories.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose $1.11, or 2 percent, to $57.06 a barrel. ET. U.S. crude oil ended Friday’s session up 87 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $47.96.

After both benchmarks fell sharply last year, prices were on track for solid gains in the first week of 2019, despite recent data that added to concerns about a slowing global economy.

Brent increased about 9 percent for the week, while WTI rose by nearly 6 percent.

Prices pared gains on Friday after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed a sharp increase in product inventories as refiners ramped up utilization rates to 97.2 percent of capacity, the highest rate on record for this time of year.

We want to see crude oil above $50, says equity strategist

We want to see crude oil above $50, says equity strategist  

Gasoline stocks rose 6.9 million barrels last week, while distillate stockpiles grew 9.5 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with forecasts for builds under 2 million barrels. U.S. crude stockpiles were little changed.

“The big build in products has really caught everyone by surprise again,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “The gasoline number was a little bit disappointing because demand was soft and we saw a big build in supply.”

U.S. energy firms cut oil rigs for the first time in three weeks as producers started to reduce their 2019 drilling plans with the collapse in crude prices at the end of last year. Drillers cut eight oil rigs in the week to Jan. 4, bringing the total count down to 877, General Electric‘s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday.

Oil drew support from comments by China’s commerce ministry, which said Beijing would hold vice-ministerial trade talks with U.S. counterparts on Jan. 7-8. The news helped boost sentiment across riskier assets including the U.S. equity and oil markets.

Washington and Beijing have been locked in a trade war for much of the past year, disrupting the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and hampering growth.

China’s services sector extended its expansion in December, a private survey showed on Friday, bucking a trend of downbeat economic data.

Frost & Sullivan sees oil prices recovering in 2019

Frost & Sullivan sees oil prices recovering in 2019  

A survey from the Institute for Supply Management on Thursday showed U.S. factory activity slowed more than expected in December, and leading economies in Asia and Europe have reported a fall in manufacturing activity.

A robust U.S. jobs report also added to broader market optimism.

Despite some demand-side worries, oil has received support as supply cuts announced by the global coalition of producers known as OPEC+ kick in.

OPEC, Russia and other non-members agreed in December to reduce supply by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019. OPEC’s share of that cut is 800,000 bpd. A Reuters survey on Thursday found OPEC supply fell by 460,000 bpd in December.

The focus now will be on whether producers deliver further curbs in January to implement the deal fully. Iraq said on Friday it was committed to the deal and would keep its oil production at 4.513 million bpd for the first half of 2019.

Oil stabilises on China-US trade talks, OPEC cuts

CNBC

  • China and the U.S. are set to hold trade talks at the vice ministerial level on Jan. 7-8.
  • Crude prices had previously fallen after the United States followed most other major economies into a manufacturing downturn.
  • Meanwhile, traders said oil prices are expected to receive some support as supply cuts announced late last year by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) start to kick in.

174362712AB024_OIL_BOOM_SHI

Andrew Burton | Getty Images

Oil prices steadied on Friday after China said it would hold talks with Washington on Jan. 7-8 aimed at solving trade disputes between the two world’s biggest economies.

Crude prices had previously fallen after the United States followed most other major economies into a manufacturing downturn.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $47.15 per barrel at 0345 GMT, 6 cents, or 0.1 percent above their last settlement.

International Brent crude futures were close to their last close, at $55.93 a barrel.

Both crude benchmarks were down earlier in the session on concerns that the Sino-American trade war would lead to a global economic slowdown.

Traders said the firmer prices came after China’s commerce ministry said on Friday that it would hold vice ministerial level trade talks with U.S. counterparts in Beijing on Jan. 7-8, as the two sides look to end a dispute that is inflicting increasing pain on both economies and roiling global financial markets.

The two nations have been locked in a trade war for much of the past year, disrupting the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and stoking fears of a global economic slowdown.

Data for December from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on Thursday showed the broadest U.S. slowdown in growth for more than a decade, as the trade conflict with China, falling equity prices and increasing uncertainty started to take a toll on the world’s biggest economy.

Leading economies in Asia and Europe have already reported a fall in manufacturing activity.

“Led by a sharp fall in the U.S. ISM and China’s PMI falling below 50, the global manufacturing PMI fell to 51.5 in December (52.8 previously), a 27-month low,” Morgan Stanley said in a note following the release of the ISM data.

“The recent run of incoming data, coupled with global tightening financial conditions, has increased the downside risks to an already moderating global growth outlook,” the U.S. bank said.

OPEC cuts

Despite the global market turmoil, traders said oil prices are expected to receive some support as supply cuts announced late last year by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) start to kick in.

OPEC oil supply fell by 460,000 barrels per day (bpd) between November and December, to 32.68 million bpd, a Reuters survey found on Thursday, as top exporter Saudi Arabia made an early start to a supply-limiting accord, while Iran and Libya posted involuntary declines.

OPEC, Russia and other non-members – an alliance known as OPEC+ – agreed last December to reduce supply by 1.2 million bpd in 2019 versus October 2018 levels. OPEC’s share of that cut is 800,000 bpd.

“If OPEC is faithful to its agreed output cut together with non-OPEC partners, it would take 3-4 months to mop up the excess inventories,” energy consultancy FGE said.

Considering the planned cuts versus ongoing increases in U.S. crude production, which hit a record 11.7 million bpd by late 2018, FGE said it expected Brent prices to range between $55-$60 per barrel in the first months of 2019.