Oil prices mixed as demand shrinks, but stimulus hopes support

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped 4 cents, or 0.2%, to $24.45 as of 0018 GMT.
  • Brent crude futures rose 12 cents, or 0.4%, to $27.51.
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 prices were mixed on Thursday following three days of gains, with the prospect of rapidly dwindling demand due to coronavirus travel bans and lockdowns offsetting hopes a U.S. $2 trillion emergency stimulus will shore up economic activity.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped 4 cents, or 0.2%, to $24.45 as of 0018 GMT, while Brent crude futures rose 12 cents, or 0.4%, to $27.51.

“With lockdowns in many countries, expectations of oil demand contracting by more than 10 million barrels per day (bpd) are rising. Such demand loss will increase the supply glut,” Australia and New Zealand Banking Group analysts said in a note.

The collapse of a supply-cut pact between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers led by Russia is set to boost oil supply, with Saudi Arabia planning to ship more than 10 million bpd from May.

“Production increases by Saudi Arabia and Russia loom, and things still look uncertain due to the ongoing price war between these two countries,” ANZ said.

U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.6 million barrels in the most recent week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, marking the ninth straight week of increases.

Products supplied, a proxy for U.S. demand, dropped nearly 10% to 19.4 million bpd, EIA data showed.

Oil prices climb as US ramps up economic support measures

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude oil futures for May delivery rose by 62 cents, or 2.3%, to $27.65 a barrel by 0346 GMT while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 76 cents, or 3.3%, to $24.12.
  • Both price benchmarks had risen over $1 earlier before pulling back slightly.
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 prices rose on Tuesday on hopes that the United States will reach a deal soon on a $2 trillion coronavirus aid package which could blunt the economic impact of the outbreak and in turn support oil demand.

Brent crude oil futures for May delivery rose by 62 cents, or 2.3%, to $27.65 a barrel by 0346 GMT while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 76 cents, or 3.3%, to $24.12. Both price benchmarks had risen over $1 earlier before pulling back slightly.

“Oil is clawing its way higher mainly on the back of the weaker dollar that stemmed from the Fed’s unprecedented measures,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at broker OANDA.

“WTI crude volatility will remain high and traders should not be surprised if this rally eventually gets faded.”

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Monday rolled out an extraordinary array of programs to backstop an economy reeling from restrictions on commerce that scientists say are needed to slow the coronavirus pandemic.

While a $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package remained stalled in the U.S. Senate on Monday as lawmakers haggled over its provisions, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin voiced confidence that a deal would be reached soon.

The expected stimulus pushed the U.S. dollar lower as it will increase the cash supply. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, fell 0.5% on Tuesday.

A weaker greenback boosts dollar-denominated oil prices since buyers paying in other currencies will pay less for their crude.

Still, the overall crude demand outlook remains low as long as travel restrictions are in place and governments curtail commercial activities to prevent the coronavirus spread.

Prices and profit margins for motor and aviation fuels globally are under severe pressure from a plunge in demand as countries enforce lockdowns and airlines ground planes, forcing more refineries to reduce output and lower their crude oil demand.

Concerns over oil demand were also stoked by a doubling of new coronavirus cases in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, caused by a jump in infected travelers returning home from overseas. That is raising the risk of transmissions in Chinese cities and provinces that had seen no new infections in recent days.

“While the anticipated lengthy absence of air traffic presents a significant obstacle in its own right, … the expected ramp in supply, which suggests storage will fill very quickly, and then prices will plummet as physical demand continues to evaporate,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp.

Oil markets slump amid coronavirus chaos

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude futures fell $1.09, or 4%, to $25.89 a barrel by 0209 GMT.
  • West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures was down 15 cents, or 0.7%, at $22.48 a barrel.
GP: Oil field 200310 Asia
A pumpjack near the Yamashinskoye rural settlement in the Almetyevsk District.
Yegor Aleyev | TASS | Getty Images

Oil prices fell on Monday as governments escalated lockdowns to curb the spread of the global coronavirus outbreak that has slashed the demand outlook for oil and threatened a global economic contraction.

Brent crude futures fell $1.09, or 4%, to $25.89 a barrel by 0209 GMT. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures was down 15 cents, or 0.7%, at $22.48 a barrel.

Oil prices have fallen for four straight weeks and have given up about 60% since the start of the year. Prices of everything from coal to copper have also been hit by the crisis, while markets in bonds and stocks enter rarely charted territory.

The coronavirus, which has infected more than 325,000 and killed over 14,000 worldwide, has disrupted business, travel and daily life. Many oil companies have rushed to cut spending and some producers have already begun putting employees on furlough.

The market has had to contend with the twin shocks of the demand destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the unexpected oil price war that erupted between producers Russia and Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

The current production cut deal expires March 31.

“We believe oil prices will continue to fall into the teens in the short term amid disaster demand destruction, building global stocks and no production limits after April 1,” said Joseph McMonigle, senior energy policy analyst at Hedgeye Potomac Research, in a note.

Almost a third of Americans are now under orders to stay at home as states took extra measures to stem the rising numbers of cases in the world’s biggest economy, while in New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern said all non-essential services and business are to be shut down.

Demand is expected to fall by more than 10 million barrels per day (bpd), or about 10% of daily global crude consumption, said Giovanni Serio, head of research at Vitol, the world’s biggest oil trader.

Goldman Sachs estimated demand loss could total 8 million bpd, brought about by countries slowing economic activity to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Oil refiners worldwide are slashing production or considering cuts as the pandemic causes the evaporation of fuel demand.

Oil prices rebound from China virus slump amid ginger recovery across markets

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude was at $54.66 a barrel by 0227 GMT, up 21 cents, or nearly 0.4%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 32 cents, or 0.6%, at $50.43 a barrel.
  • Both Brent and WTI are currently down by more 20% from this year’s peak on Jan. 6.
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Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Oil prices rose on Tuesday, matching moves in other financial markets as investors regained calm after Monday’s sharp sell-off on fears of the impact of the China coronavirus on demand for fuel sent crude to its lowest level in more than a year.

Brent crude was at $54.66 a barrel by 0227 GMT, up 21 cents, or nearly 0.4%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 32 cents, or 0.6%, at $50.43 a barrel.

Both Brent and WTI are currently down by more than 20% from this year’s peak on Jan. 8.

“The rebound of crude oil prices reflects improved trading sentiment (across the Asia-Pacific region), as concerns over the coronavirus outbreak alleviated somewhat. The Asian equity market also recovered from yesterday’s losses,” said Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets.

She said recovery was also helped by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies considering further supply cuts amid concerns that the virus will dampen the outlook for global energy demand.

Three OPEC+ sources and an industry source familiar with discussions told Reuters on Monday OPEC and its allies including Russia, known as OPEC+, were considering cutting their oil output by a further 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to the impact on oil demand from the coronavirus.

“Some half-a-million barrels cut is expected but we won’t rule out an even deeper cut should the situation worsen,” said Yang. “This expectation boosted oil trading today.”

Oil rises supported by US-China trade optimism, Middle East tensions

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Global benchmark Brent crude futures, were up 22 cents, or 0.3%, to 66.22 a barrel by 0430 GMT.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 18 cents, or 0.3%, at $61.24 per barrel.
  • Oil markets were closed on Wednesday for New Year’s Day.
Reusable: Iraq Oil Daura oil refinery Bagdad 091105
An Iraqi worker gauges gas emissions from an oil pipe at the Daura oil refiner
Getty Images

Oil prices kicked off the new year higher on Thursday as warming trade relations between the United States and China eased demand concerns, while rising tensions in the Middle East fuelled worries about supply.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures, were up 22 cents, or 0.3%, to 66.22 a barrel by 0430 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 18 cents, or 0.3%, at $61.24 per barrel.

Oil markets were closed on Wednesday for New Year’s Day.

Both benchmarks ended higher in 2019, posting their biggest annual gains since 2016, buoyed at the end of the year by a thaw in the prolonged trade dispute between the United States and China – the world’s two largest economies – and a deeper output cut pledged by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies.

“Oil remains supported by the back-burner trade truce and the uptick in political unrest in Iraq,” said Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader.

The U.S. military carried out air strikes against Iran-backed Katib Hezbollah militia group over the weekend. Angry at the air strikes, protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, although they withdrew after the United States deployed extra troops.

In 2020, Brent is forecast to average $63.07 a barrel, up from December’s estimate of $62.50, while WTI is forecast to average $57.70 a barrel, up from December’s estimate of $57.30, as the OPEC-led supply cuts and the expectations of a U.S.-China trade deal boosted analysts’ views on the prospects for the year, a Reuters poll showed.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal would be signed on Jan. 15 at the White House.

January also marks the start of the deeper output cuts by OPEC and its partners, including Russia. OPEC and its allies have agreed to cut a further of 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Jan. 1, on top of their previous cut of 1.2 million bpd that started on Jan. 1 a year ago.

A fall in U.S. crude inventories last week also supported prices. U.S. crude stocks fell 7.8 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 27, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 3.2 million barrels, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) released on Tuesday.

Official data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due on Friday as the release has been delayed by two days by the New Year’s holiday.

“Traders will look towards Friday’s EIA report for forward guidance on oil prices,” said Benjamin Lu, analyst at Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures.