Oil up on market rebalancing, but analysts warn OPEC must keep supply cuts

Brent has risen by 37 percent since its low in 2017 reached last June. (Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2017
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Oil up on market rebalancing, but analysts warn OPEC must keep supply cuts

SINGAPORE: Oil markets rose on Friday, supported by OPEC-led supply cuts which are tightening the market as well as by strong demand, but analysts cautioned that the cuts would need to be extended to counter rising US output.
Brent futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $60.86 per barrel at 0524 GMT, up 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close. Brent has risen by 37 percent since its low in 2017 reached last June.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $54.83 a barrel, up 29 cents, or 0.5 percent, from the last close. WTI is 30 percent above its 2017-low in June.
The bullish market sentiment has been fueled this year by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, including Russia, to hold back 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in oil production to tighten markets.
While supplies are being withheld, oil demand is rising, especially in China, whose roughly 9 million bpd of imports has surpassed the US as the world’s biggest crude importer.
“China’s oil demand growth appears to be accelerating,” US investment bank Jefferies said.
Furthermore, global crude inventories, especially in the US, have drawn down as oil markets have been slightly undersupplied during the past quarters, although the outlook for next year is uncertain.
The pact to withhold supplies runs to March 2018, but there is growing consensus to extend the deal to cover all of next year.
Analysts say that without an extension of the cuts, a supply glut could re-emerge, especially due to rising US production.
“Our oil balance numbers imply a modest global drawdown of inventories in 2017, not nearly enough to reverse the large builds seen from 2014 to 2016. What’s more, our balance points to the resumption of global stock builds in 2018,” said Harry Tchilinguirian of BNP Paribas in a note.
Because of that, he said “we see no other option for OPEC and Russia than to agree to an extension of supply cuts past March 2018.”
Tchilinguirian said rising US output, which has jumped by more than 13 percent since middle of 2016 to 9.6 million bpd, was resulting in increased exports.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said this week that the latest US crude oil export figures rose a record 2.1 million bpd.
“With the US oil surplus increasingly exported to Atlantic Basin markets and further ashore to OPEC’s hitherto captive markets in Asia, it may be difficult for Brent to hold on to $60 per barrel in 2018,” Tchilinguirian said.
BNP Paribas said it expected WTI and Brent to average $50 per barrel and $55 per barrel, respectively, in 2018.


Xi urges financial risk prevention while seeking stable growth

Updated 39 min 57 sec ago
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Xi urges financial risk prevention while seeking stable growth

  • China’s economy is growing at its slowest pace in almost 30 years
  • Preventing and resolving financial risks, especially systemic financial risks, is a fundamental task
BEIJING: China should seek stable development of its economy while not forgetting to fend off risks to its financial system, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday.
China’s economy is growing at its slowest pace in almost 30 years, spurring policymakers to bolster growth by easing credit conditions and cutting taxes.
“It is necessary to focus on preventing risks on the basis of steady growth, while strengthening the countercyclical adjustment of fiscal policy and monetary policy and ensuring that the economy operates in a reasonable range,” Xi said.
Preventing and resolving financial risks, especially systemic financial risks, is a fundamental task, the agency cited Xi as telling a study session for senior Communist Party officials on Friday.
On Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang reiterated that China would not resort to “flood-like” stimulus such as it unleashed in past downturns.
But after a spate of weak data, investors are asking if Beijing needs to speed or boost support to reduce the risk of a sharper slowdown.
Until now, China has refrained from cutting benchmark interest rates to spur the slowing economy, which would ease financing costs but risk adding to a mountain of debt.
To free up more funds for lending to small and private businesses, the central bank has cut the reserves that banks need to set aside five times in the past year.
Last month, Chinese banks made the most new loans on record, a total of 3.23 trillion yuan ($481 billion). A central bank official said previously that no credit floodgate had been opened, and the lending jump showed recent easing steps were working.
China’s financial sector must serve the real economy, Xi said, but stable growth and risk prevention must be balanced.