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.

Oil hits three month highs as strong US consumer spending underpins growth hopes

CNBC

Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude futures were up 6 cents, or 0.1%, at $67.98 a barrel at 0612 GMT.
  • The West Texas Intermediate contract was up 11 cents, or 0.2%, at $61.79 a barrel.
Reusable: Oil tanker France sunset 151016
Jean-Paul Pelissier | Reuters

Oil prices rose on Friday, hitting three-month highs after data showed record online spending by U.S. consumers, stoking faith in the world’s no. 1 economy even before the hoped-for end to the trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Brent crude futures were up 6 cents, or 0.1%, at $67.98 a barrel at 0612 GMT, after rising to as high as $68.10, the highest since September. The West Texas Intermediate contract was up 11 cents, or 0.2%, at $61.79 a barrel.

A survey on Thursday showed that online holiday purchases by U.S. consumers reached a record, beating analysts’ expectations and sending U.S. stocks to fresh.

U.S. consumers are “showing few signs of tightening their purse strings, which is positive for oil also,” said Stephen Innes chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader.

Oil prices have also been buoyed by robust hopes that the New Year will usher in an end to the long-running U.S.-China trade tariff war, a dispute that has overshadowed global economic growth prospects and left question marks over future demand for crude.

The lingering ripple effect of the trade row showed up again in data from Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy, on Friday showing that industrial output shrank for a second month in November.

Still, the price Brent has jumped more than a quarter in 2019, while WTI is up around 35%, boosted by moves by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, including Russia, to curb production. Earlier this month OPEC and its allies agreed to extend and deepen those cuts.

“The short-term momentum remains positive although I expect Asia to content itself with remaining on the sidelines today,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, at OANDA.

Oil steady amid optimism U.S.-China close to signing trade deal

CNBC

Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Oil prices were mostly steady on Monday after three weeks of gains.
  • U.S. drillers may be anticipating higher prices as well and last week increased the number of their oil rigs by the most in a week since February 2018.
GP: Rosneft oil refinery Russia 190125
A general view of the Novokuibyshev Refinery owned by Rosneft oil company on March 15, 2012 in Novokuibyshevsk, Samara region, Russia.
Sasha Mordovets | Getty Images

Oil prices were mostly steady on Monday after three weeks of gains amid optimism the United States and China were close to signing a trade deal to end a tariff war, with President Donald Trump saying an agreement would be signed “very shortly.”

Brent crude was down 4 cents at $66.10 a barrel by 0100 GMT. West Texas Intermediate was also down 4 cents at $60.40 a barrel.

A so-called phase one deal was announced earlier in December as part of a bid to end the months-long tit-for-tat trade war between the world’s two largest economies, which has sent shockwaves through markets and roiled global growth.

The United States is to agree to reduce some tariffs in return for a big increase in purchases by Chinese importers of American farm products, according to the deal that is due to be signed in January.

“We just achieved a breakthrough on the trade deal and we will be signing it very shortly,” Trump said at a Turning Point USA event in Florida on Saturday.

The easing of tensions has improved business confidence and boosted the outlook for economic growth and energy demand.

“Oil prices will continue to benefit from the positive developments in the U.S.-China trade,” said Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader.

“With a more constructive global macro outlook than at any time in the last year, oil is well-supported by both fundamental factors and sentiment now,” he said.

U.S. drillers may be anticipating higher prices as well and last week increased the number of their oil rigs by the most in a week since February 2018.

Drillers added 18 oil rigs in the week to Dec. 20, bringing the total to 685, the most since November, Baker Hughes, an energy services company, said in its weekly report.

U.S. economic growth nudged up in the third quarter, latest data shows, and the economy appears to have maintained the moderate pace of expansion as the year ended, supported by a strong labor market.

Oil skids as U.S. inventories pile up, but demand hopes stem bigger drop

REUTERS

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices dropped on Wednesday after U.S. industry data showed a surprise build in crude inventories, but expectations for firmer demand next year kept losses in check.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 dropped 38 cents, or 0.57%, to $65.72 a barrel by 0730 GMT on Wednesday. The international benchmark rose 1.2% to $66.10 a barrel on Tuesday.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 fell 46 cents, or 0.75%, to $60.48 per barrel.

Wednesday’s declines followed a gain of more than 1% in the previous session as the “phase one” U.S.-China trade deal announced last week eased pressure on the oil benchmarks.

Prior to the agreement, oil markets were hampered by worries over the economic impact of the trade dispute between the world’s two biggest oil consumers.

“The sizzling oil market rally came to a grinding halt after an unexpected climb in the weekly U.S. crude inventory report,” said Stephen Innes, market strategist at AxiTrader. However, he added that “it’s unlikely to be a game-changer.”

“Investors have transcended the trade deal-inspired relief rally euphoria, and are now banking on a fundamental demand-driven shift that could quicken the pace of the oil market rebalancing in the first quarter of 2020.”

U.S. crude inventories climbed 4.7 million barrels in the week to Dec. 13 to 452 million, compared with analysts’ expectations for a draw of 1.3 million barrels, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed.

But a drop in official inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) due later on Wednesday could give oil more upward impetus, said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at OANDA.

The drop in prices Wednesday morning “are minuscule, with oil’s price action continuing to be constructive,” Halley said.

Deeper production cuts coming from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies such as Russia – a group known as OPEC+ – also continued to support market sentiment and prevented a further slide in prices.

OPEC+, which has cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) since Jan. 1 this year, will make a further oil supply cut of 500,000 bpd from Jan. 1, 2020, to support the market.

Reporting by Koustav Samanta; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Tom Hogue

Oil poised near three-month highs on US-China trade hopes, supply cuts

CNBC

Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent crude oil futures had slipped by two cents to $65.32 a barrel by 0422 GMT.
  • West Texas Intermediate crude was down four cents to $60.17 a barrel.
GP: Oil field workers pump jack 191120
Oil field workers with Wisco work on a pump jack in North Dakota, the United States, on November 6, 2013.
Ken Cedeno | Corbis News | Getty Images

Oil prices trickled a fraction lower on Tuesday but remained near a three-month high as investors kept the faith with hopes that a fully fledged U.S.China trade deal is in the pipeline, set to stoke oil demand in the world’s biggest economies.

Brent crude oil futures had slipped by two cents to $65.32 a barrel by 0422 GMT, while West Texas Intermediate crude was down four cents to $60.17 a barrel.

Under a partial trade agreement announced last week, Washington will reduce some tariffs on Chinese imports in exchange for Chinese purchases of agricultural, manufactured and energy products increasing by about $200 billion over the next two years.

“Oil prices are struggling to extend their gains as investors await further details regarding the U.S.-China ‘Phase One’ trade deal,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA. “Oil should be much higher, but the U.S.-China trade war is far from over.”

The so-called ‘Phase One’ trade deal between both countries has been “absolutely completed”, Larry Kudlow, a top White House adviser said on Monday, adding that U.S. exports to China will double under the agreement.

The agreement is yet to be signed and several Chinese officials told Reuters the wording of the agreement remained a delicate issue, with care was needed to ensure expressions used in text did not re-escalate tensions and deepen differences.

JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have revised their oil price forecasts for the next year upwards, with an OPEC-led agreement to curb output further dovetailing with the improving trade outlook between the U.S. and China.

Lower supply next year due to a planned cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and associated producers like Russia — a grouping known as ‘OPEC+’ — and stronger economic growth expected because of the improved trade outlook between United States and China will combine to tighten the oil supply-demand balance next year, analysts from JP Morgan said.

Oil demand could see further improvements as U.S. President Donald Trump “tries to … ensure the U.S. growth remains robust before voters turn to the polls in November,” said OANDA’s Moya.

Also supporting prices, a preliminary Reuters poll ahead of reports from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed expectations that U.S. crude oil inventories likely fell last week.

Still, U.S. oil output from seven major shale formations is expected to rise about 29,000 barrels per day (bpd) in January to a record 9.14 million bpd, the EIA said in a monthly forecast on Monday.