Oil prices firm on hopes for US-China trade deal

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Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would delay an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods originally scheduled for later this week thanks to progress in trade talks and said if progress continued, he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would seal a deal.
  • Both the international benchmark Brent and U.S. crude futures contracts saw gains.

Oil prices rose on Monday as Washington and China appeared to edge closer to a trade deal, dampening fears over the outlook for global economic growth.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $67.26 a barrel at 0005 GMT, up 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close. They ended Friday little changed after touching their highest since Nov. 16 at $67.73 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.38 per barrel, up 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement. WTI futures climbed 0.5 percent on Friday, having marked their highest since Nov. 16 at $57.81 a barrel.

“Crude prices continue to be supported on optimism a trade deal will be reached in the coming days by the world’s two largest economies, said Edward Moya, senior market analyst, OANDA.

President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would delay an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled for later this week thanks to progress in trade talks and said if progress continued, he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would seal a deal.

Signs of reduced global oil supply also supported crude prices.

U.S. energy firms this week cut the number of oil rigs operating for the first time in three weeks week after U.S. crude production hit an all-time high, boosting exports to a record-peak and stockpiles to their highest in over a year.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s Pemex produced 1.62 million barrels of crude per day in January, less than any month in almost three decades, the state-owned oil company said on Friday, underscoring the challenges facing a government that vows to pump far more in a few years.

Oil prices fall as US crude output hits record

CNBC

Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Both international Brent and U.S. crude futures slipped.
  • U.S. crude oil production reached 12 million bpd for the first time last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday in a weekly report.
Reusable: Oil worker 130728
Andrew Burton | Getty Images

Oil prices fell on Friday after the United States reported its crude output hit a record 12 million barrels per day (bpd), undermining efforts by Middle East-dominated producer club OPEC to withhold supply and tighten global markets.

International Brent crude futures were at $66.87 per barrel at 0326 GMT, down 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.84 per barrel, down 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last settlement.

U.S. crude oil production reached 12 million bpd for the first time last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday in a weekly report.

That means U.S. crude output has soared by almost 2.5 million bpd since the start of 2018, and by a whopping 5 million bpd since 2013. America is the only country to ever reach 12 million bpd of production.

As output surges, U.S. oil stocks are also rising.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose by 3.7 million barrels to 454.5 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 15, the EIA said.

Analysts say U.S. output will rise further and that oil firms will export more oil to sell off surplus stocks.

“We see total U.S. crude production hitting 13 million bpd by year-end, with 2019 averaging 12.5 million bpd,” U.S. bank Citi said following the release of the EIA report.

Of that, the bank said, “we could be seeing some weeks with 4.6 million bpd of gross crude exports by end-year, adding to this week’s new record” of 3.6 million bpd.

Friday’s dips at least temporarily halted a rally that pushed crude prices this week to their highest for 2019 so far amid the supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

OPEC and some non-affiliated producers such as Russia agreed late last year to cut output by 1.2 million bpd to prevent a large supply overhang from growing.

Another recent price driver has been U.S. sanctions against oil exporters Iran and Venezuela.

Oil near 2019 highs amid OPEC cuts, but economic slowdown applies brakes

CNBC

  • Both international Brent and U.S. crude futures were higher.
  • Analysts said that a global economic slowdown was preventing prices from surging beyond the 2019 highs seen this week.

A truck used to carry sand for fracking is washed in a truck stop in Odessa, Texas.

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A truck used to carry sand for fracking is washed in a truck stop in Odessa, Texas.

Oil prices hovered close to 2019 highs on Thursday, bolstered by OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, but were prevented from rising further by slowing growth in the global economy.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $57.33 per barrel at 0256 GMT, 17 cents, or 0.3 percent, above their last settlement, but below their 2019 high of $57.55 reached the previous day.

International Brent crude futures were at $67.14 per barrel, 6 cents above their last close and not far off their 2019 peak, hit the day before, of $67.38 per barrel.

Analysts said that a global economic slowdown was preventing prices from surging beyond the 2019 highs seen this week.

“Slowing economic growth will invariably lead to weakness in fuel consumption thus eroding bullish gains for oil prices,” said Benjamin Lu of brokerage Phillip Futures in Singapore.

Despite the slowdown in economic growth that emerged in late 2018, oil prices have been driven up this year by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

OPEC, as well as some non-affiliated producers such as Russia, agreed late last year to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to prevent a large supply overhang from growing.

Another price driver has been U.S. sanctions against oil exporters Iran and Venezuela.

“Although there is no lack of resources, there is an increasing lack of access to them,” Britain’s Barclays bank said of the sanctions on Wednesday.

The main factor keeping oil prices from rising even further is soaring U.S. oil production, which rose by more than 2 million bpd last year, to a record 11.9 million bpd.

The swelling output has resulted in rising U.S. oil inventories.

U.S. crude oil stocks rose by 1.3 million barrels in the week to Feb. 15 to 448.5 million, according to a weekly report by the American Petroleum Institute on Wednesday.

Official oil inventory and production data is due to be published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) after 1800 GMT on Thursday.

Oil near 2019 highs amid OPEC cuts, US sanctions

CNBC

  • U.S. crude futures hit 2019 highs shortly after 0300 GMT on Wednesday, up 30 cents.
  • International benchmark Brent crude futures also gained and hovered close to their 2019 high hit on Monday.

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 were around 2019 highs on Wednesday, propped up by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and by U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.

But soaring U.S. production and expectations of an economic slowdown look set to cap prices, analysts said.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures hit 2019 highs of $56.39 per barrel shortly after 0300 GMT on Wednesday, up 30 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last settlement.

International Brent crude futures were at $66.58 per barrel, up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close and not far off their 2019 high of $66.83 per barrel from Monday.

Oil prices have been supported by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

OPEC-member and top crude exporter Saudi Arabia is expected to reduce shipments of light crude oil to Asia in March as part of the effort to tighten markets.

OPEC as well as some non-affiliated producers such as Russia agreed late last year to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to prevent a large supply overhang from swelling.

“We have lowered Saudi crude oil output in line with announcements … (and) are now assuming that Saudi Arabia will produce in the first three quarters of 2019 less than the 10.31 million bpd target it agreed to at the Dec. 7 OPEC, non-OPEC meeting,” French bank BNP Paribas said in a note.

Because of the cuts, BNP said it expected oil prices “to rally through Q3 2019”, with Brent to average $73 per barrel by then and WTI to average $66.

Another key oil price driver has been U.S. sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuela.

Despite the sanctions, Iran’s crude exports were higher than expected in January, averaging around 1.25 million bpd, according to Refinitiv ship tracking data. Many analysts had expected Iran oil exports to drop below 1 million bpd after the imposition of U.S. sanctions last November.

Shale boom, weaker economy

Standing against the supply cuts and sanctions is U.S. crude output, which soared by more than 2 million bpd in 2018 to a record 11.9 million bpd, thanks to booming shale oil production, which the Energy Information Administration on Tuesday said was expected to keep rising.

BNP Paribas said surging U.S. output would feed into lower oil prices towards the end of the year, with Brent to dip to an average of $67 a barrel by the fourth quarter and WTI to average $61.

“U.S. oil production growth, driven by shale, will be increasingly exported in greater volumes to international markets while the global economy is expected to witness a synchronised slowdown in growth,” the bank said.

Brent eases from 2019 highs as markets await trade talks outcome

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  • International Brent crude oil futures were at $66.08 per barrel at 0220 GMT, off the 2019 high of $66.83 a barrel hit in the previous session.

Oil tanker

Jean-Paul Pelissier | Reuters

Brent crude oil prices eased away from 2019 highs on Tuesday on caution that economic growth may dent fuel demand this year, although supply cuts led by producer cartel OPEC still meant markets were relatively tight.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $66.08 per barrel at 0220 GMT, down 42 cents, or 0.6 percent from their last close, but still not far off the 2019 high of $66.83 a barrel hit in the previous session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $55.71 per barrel. While that was up 12 cents from their last settlement, it was below the $56.33 2019 high from the previous day.

Traders said the slight downward correction was driven by concerns about the health of the global economy this year.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note that the Sino-American trade dispute was hurting economic growth globally.

“Addressing global trade tensions is key for improving the economic outlook,” it said in a note.

China’s vice premier and chief trade negotiator, Liu He, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer lead a round of trade talks this week in Washington.

Considering the economic outlook and supply and demand balances, the bank said it expects Brent prices to average between $50 and $70 per barrel, “anchored around $60.”

Despite some caution around trade, global oil markets remain relatively tight because of supply cuts led by the Middle East dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with top crude exporter Saudi Arabia cutting the most.

Saudi seaborne crude exports fell in the first half of February, with departures standing at 6.204 million barrels per day (bpd), a 1.341 million bpd decline on the previous month and 0.91 million bpd decline on the year, data intelligence firm Kpler said.

Further providing oil markets with support are U.S. sanctions against petroleum exporters Iran and Venezuela.

Venezuela is a major crude supplier to U.S. refineries while Iran is a key exporter to major demand centres in Asia, especially China and India.