Oil prices soar more than 4.5 percent after US, China suspend trade hostilities

CNBC

  • WTI crude futures surged more than 5 percent following the weekend announcement of a 90-day pause on additional trade tariffs between China and the U.S.
  • Meanwhile, OPEC — along with non-OPEC member Russia — is expected to announce oil supply cuts at its upcoming meeting on Dec. 6.

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 surged on Monday after the United States and China agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade war, and ahead of a meeting this week by producer club OPEC that is expected to result in a supply cut.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.63 per barrel at 0358 GMT, up $2.73 per barrel, or 5.4 percent from their last close.

U.S. crude prices were further pushed up by an announcement from Canada that Alberta province will force producers to cut output by 8.7 percent, or 325,000 barrels per day (bpd), to deal with a pipeline bottleneck that has led to crude building up in storage. Most of Alberta’s oil is exported to the United States.

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore said Alberta’s decision was “an unprecedented step to ease a crisis in the Canadian energy industry.”

International Brent crude oil futures were up $2.8 per barrel, or 4.8 percent, at $62.30 a barrel.

China and the United States agreed during a weekend meeting in Argentina of the Group of 20 (G-20) leading economies not to impose additional trade tariffs for at least 90 days while the pair hold talks to resolve existing disputes.

The trade war between the world’s two biggest economies has weighed heavily on global trade, sparking concerns of an economic slowdown.

Crude oil has not been included in the list of hundreds of products each side has slapped with import tariffs, but traders said the positive sentiment of the truce was also driving crude markets.

“The agreement to keep talking for 90 days during which tariffs are paused is an upside surprise,” U.S. bank Morgan Stanley said in a note to clients on Monday. It added, though, that trade negotiations would be “bumpy”.

Overall, Morgan Stanley said it saw a “slight upside in our 2019 growth outlook” because of the renewed talks.

Looking ahead, oil traders will eye a meeting by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Dec. 6. At the meeting, the producer group, along with non-OPEC member Russia, is expected to announce cuts aimed at reining in a production overhang that has pulled down crude prices by around a third since October.

No official announcements regarding supply cuts have yet been made, but most analysts expect a reduction of 1 million-1.4 million bpd versus October levels, which were the highest by OPEC as a group since December 2016.

Russian oil output stood at 11.37 million bpd in November, down from a post-Soviet record of 11.41 million bpd it reached in October, Energy Ministry data showed on Sunday.

“Expectations are for coordinated cuts to reduce an oversupplied market and to realign with slower growth in demand,” said Fitch Solutions in a note on Monday.

Meanwhile, oil producers in the United States continue to churn out record amounts of oil, with crude output at an unprecedented level of more than 11.5 million bpd.

With drilling activity still high, most analysts expect U.S. oil production to rise further in 2019.

US Crude Oil Futures near 1-Week High

Market Realist

US crude oil futures 

April WTI crude oil futures contracts rose 2.2% to $62.57 per barrel on March 5, 2018—the highest settlement since February 27, 2018. Brent crude oil futures contracts rose 1.8% to $65.5 per barrel on March 5, 2018.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) and the Vanguard Energy ETF (VDE) rose ~1.1% and ~1.3%, respectively, on March 5, 2018. These funds have exposure to upstream energy companies.

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Crude oil and ETFs’ performance 

Crude oil prices rose on March 5, 2018, due to the expectation of a fall in Cushing crude oil inventories, supply outages in Libya, strong demand, and ongoing supply cuts.

However, US crude oil prices declined ~2% on February 26–March 5, 2018. Prices declined due to the larger-than-expected rise in US oil inventories, an unexpected rise in gasoline inventories, and record US oil production.

The SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP) and the VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH) decreased 0.1% and 2.1%, respectively, on February 26–March 5, 2018. XLE and VDE declined 2.2% and 2%, respectively, during the same period. XOP outperformed the other energy ETFs. These ETFs have exposure to oil and gas companies.

Crude oil inventory report  

On March 7, 2018, the EIA will release its crude oil inventory report. Bloomberg estimates that US oil inventories could have increased by 2.5 million barrels on February 23–March 2, 2018. A larger-than-expected increase in US crude oil inventories could pressure oil prices.