Oil slips to $71, hit by talk of higher OPEC+ production

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Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • Analysts expect U.S. crude stockpiles to have risen by 1.9 million barrels last week, the fourth straight increase.
  • Oil fell Monday after comments from Russia raised concern the OPEC-led supply-cutting pact may not be renewed.
  • OPEC and its allies are due to meet in June to decide whether to continue the arrangement.
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Brent oil slipped to around $71 a barrel on Tuesday, pressured by expectations of higher U.S. inventories and concern about Russia’s willingness to stick with OPEC-led supply cuts.

Analysts on average expect U.S. crude stockpiles to have risen by 1.9 million barrels last week, the fourth straight increase. The first of this week’s stockpile reports is due at 2030 GMT from the American Petroleum Institute.

“We have already seen these inventories going higher in the last week’s print,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at TF Global Markets in London.

“The rising inventory data has raised many questions for investors – no one wants to see the oil glut again.”

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 12 cents at $71.06 a barrel at 0801 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained 6 cents to $63.46.

While OPEC-led supply cuts have boosted Brent by more than 30 percent this year, gains have been limited by worries that slowing economic growth could weaken demand for fuel.

Oil also fell on Monday after comments from Russia raised concern the OPEC-led supply-cutting pact may not be renewed. Russia and the producer group may decide to boost output to fight for market share with the United States, TASS news agency ited Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as saying.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, an alliance known as OPEC+, have been cutting output since Jan. 1. They decide in June whether to continue the arrangement.

“There is a growing concern that Russia will not agree on extending production cuts and we could see them officially abandon it in the coming months,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Oil hits 2019 highs amid OPEC-led supply cuts, US sanctions on Iran, Venezuela

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Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures also equalled a November 2018 high of $60.27 per barrel on Thursday.
  • International Brent crude oil futures hit a November 2018 high of $68.64 per barrel around at 0453 GMT on Thursday, up 14 cents, or 0.2 percent from their last close.
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Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.
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Oil prices reached their highest so far for 2019 on Thursday as global markets tightened amid supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and U.S. government sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.

International Brent crude oil futures hit a November 2018 high of $68.64 per barrel around at 0453 GMT on Thursday, up 14 cents, or 0.2 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures also equalled a November 2018 high of $60.27 per barrel on Thursday.

Crude prices have been pushed up by almost a third since the start of 2019 by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as by sanctions enacted against Iran and Venezuela by the United States.

OPEC’s crude oil output has slumped from a mid-2018 peak of 32.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to 30.7 million bpd in February.

The U.S. sanctions are also disrupting supply.

“Venezuelan exports to the U.S. have finally dried up, after the sanctions were placed on them by the U.S. administration earlier this year,” ANZ bank said on Thursday.

Iranian oil exports have also slumped. The United States aims to cut Iran’s crude exports by about 20 percent to below 1 million bpd from May by requiring importing countries to reduce purchases to avoid U.S. sanctions.

The OPEC cuts and sanctions have also tightened supply within the United States.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles last week fell by nearly 10 million barrels, the most since July, boosted by strong export and refining demand, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Stockpiles fell 9.6 million barrels, to 439.5 million barrels, their lowest since January.

Oil pulls back from four-month highs amid economic growth concerns

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Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • International Brent crude oil futures were at $67.50 a barrel at 0222 GMT, down 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close. Brent touched $68.20 a barrel on Tuesday, its highest since Nov. 16.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.83 per barrel, down 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement. WTI hit a high of $59.57 a barrel on Tuesday, the highest since Nov. 12.
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Oil prices dipped on Wednesday, retreating from a four-month high as economic growth concerns dampened the outlook for fuel consumption.

However, analysts said oil was still well supported by voluntary supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $67.50 a barrel at 0222 GMT, down 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close. Brent touched $68.20 a barrel on Tuesday, its highest since Nov. 16.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.83 per barrel, down 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement. WTI hit a high of $59.57 a barrel on Tuesday, the highest since Nov. 12.

Analysts said the dip was mostly down to concerns that an economic slowdown could soon dent fuel consumption.

“Global growth concerns and ongoing oversupply fears (are) creating headwinds for the commodity,” said Lukman Otunuga, analyst at futures brokerage FXTM.

The dips come after crude prices rose by more than a quarter this year, pushed up by a pledge led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of supply as well as by U.S. sanctions against oil exporters Iran and Venezuela.

“The shaky supply outlook with regard to Venezuela and Iran, as well as the petro-nations’ output restrictions are top of mind in the oil market,” said Norbert Ruecker, head of economics at Swiss bank Julius Baer.

Ruecker said oil prices were likely capped around $70 per barrel as fuel price inflation, as seen last year, would hit demand at that level.

At the same time, he said oil prices were supported above $50 per barrel as investment into U.S. shale output growth would cease below that price.

Between those price levels, Ruecker said “the U.S. shale boom almost fully meets global oil demand growth mirrored by the strongly expanding crude oil exports,” which hit a record 3.6 million bpd in February.

“We see … roughly 1.2 million bpd of U.S. shale oil growth over the coming year,” Ruecker said, which is in line with most global oil demand growth forecasts of 1 million to 1.3 million barrels per day for 2019.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due to publish its weekly crude production and storage level report around 1700 GMT on Wednesday.

US crude settles 0.6% lower at $52.41 per barrel as slow progress in trade talks counters OPEC cuts

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Oil tanker

Jean-Paul Pelissier | Reuters

Oil prices fell on Monday as worries surrounding the resumption of U.S.-China trade talks overshadowed support from OPEC-led supply restraint.

Brent crude futures lost 63 cents, or 1 percent to $61.46 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled 0.6 percent lower at $52.41 per barrel.

Trade talks between the United States and China resumed with working level discussions before high-level discussions later in the week.

While Beijing struck an upbeat note, it also expressed anger at a U.S. Navy mission through the disputed South China Sea. This cast a shadow as the two countries try to reach a deal before the March 1 deadline when U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he did not plan to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before the March 1 deadline, dampening hopes of a quick trade pact.

Escalating U.S.-China trade tensions have cost both countries billions of dollars and disrupted global trade and business flows, roiling financial markets.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s going on with this trade war, whether they’re going to get anything done,” said Phil Flynn, oil analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “You’ve got concerns about slowing growth.”

Still, oil prices have been buoyed this year by output curbs from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, a group known as OPEC+.

The deal, effective from January, aims to cut 1.2 million barrels per day until the end of June to forestall an supply overhang. Suhail Al Mazrouei, the Energy Minister of the United Arab Emirates, said on Monday the oil market should achieve this balance in the first quarter of 2019.

OPEC and its allies meet on April 17 and 18 in Vienna to review the agreement, but a draft cooperation charter seen by Reuters fell short of a new formal alliance among the producers.

U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, along with older sanctions on fellow OPEC member Iran, have also prevented crude prices from falling further.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has sought OPEC support against the sanctions, citing their impact on oil prices and potential risks for other members of the producer group.

Oil prices rise as China-US trade tensions show signs of easing

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  • Oil prices edged up on Thursday, buoyed by a draw down in inventories in the U.S. and by signs of easing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
  • Oil prices have also been supported by OPEC-led supply curbs announced last week, although gains have been muted after the producer group lowered its 2019 demand forecast.

Oil prices rose on Thursday, buoyed by a draw down in U.S. crude stockpiles and indications that China is taking concrete steps to put a trade war truce with Washington into action.

Crude oil prices have also been supported by OPEC-led supply curbs announced last week, although gains were capped after the producer group lowered its 2019 demand forecast.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $60.47 per barrel at 0442 GMT, up 32 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.35 per barrel, up 20 cents or, 0.4 percent.

In a sign that China is willing to lessen the trade tensions with United States, the country made its first major U.S. soybean purchases in more than six months on Wednesday, helping investors breathe a sigh of relief across broader stock markets, and pushing oil prices up.

A drop in U.S. crude stocks also boosted oil, which has been riding higher on expectations that the OPEC-led planned output cuts would re-balance the market in 2019, analysts said.

U.S. crude inventories fell by 1.2 million barrels in the week to Dec. 7, compared with expectations for a decrease of 3 million barrels.

“The agreement of a reduction in output of 1.2 million barrels per day at last week’s OPEC meeting should see the market push into (supply) deficit in H1 2019,” ANZ analyst Daniel Hynes said.

“Rising U.S. output, weaker economic growth and the production cut agreement roll-off will see a balanced market in H2,” Hynes said. ANZ expects Brent to reach $75 a barrel in the first quarter of 2019.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said demand for its crude in 2019 would fall to 31.44 million barrels per day (bpd), 100,000 bpd less than predicted last month and 1.53 million bpd less than it currently produces.

This adds to the concerns of several market watchers that the decision led by the group to cut production might not be enough to override a glut or push prices higher.

Oil market participants are concerned about the likelihood of weaker macroeconomic growth, which could rein in any expansion in oil demand, analysts said.

“If we do see a reduction in global growth risk, then we are monitoring increases in demand in combination with supply being absorbed,” said Hue Frame, portfolio manager at Frame Funds in Sydney.

“There are so many moving parts at the moment that it is difficult to provide a convincing forecast,” Frame said.

He added, however, that there is a significant upside to prices going forward.