Oil rises on US-China trade talks, supply cuts

US crude oil production stayed at a record 11.7 million barrels per day in the last week of 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 07 January 2019
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Oil rises on US-China trade talks, supply cuts

  • The US and Beijing have been locked in an escalating trade spat since early 2018, raising import tariffs on each other’s goods
  • ‘The US supply glut remains a bearish concern’

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose by more than 1 percent on Monday, lifted by optimism that talks could soon resolve the trade war between the United States and China, while supply cuts by major producers also supported the market.
Brent crude futures were at $57.75 per barrel at 0404 GMT, up 69 cents, or 1.2 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $48.67 per barrel, up 71 cents, or 1.5 percent.
Financial markets were riding a relief rally on Monday on expectations that face-to-face trade negotiations between delegates from Washington and Beijing, due to start on Monday, would lead to an easing in tensions between the two biggest economies in the world.
The United States and Beijing have been locked in an escalating trade spat since early 2018, raising import tariffs on each other’s goods. The dispute has weighed on economic growth.
Goldman Sachs said in a note on Monday it had downgraded its average Brent crude oil forecast for 2019 from $70 per barrel to $62.50 a barrel because of “the strongest macro headwinds since 2015.”
J.P. Morgan, another US bank, said in a note late last week that “the 3 percent global growth pace we have been anticipating for the next two quarters looks increasingly challenging.
The bank also said that “bond and commodity markets appear to be pricing in on average close to a 60 percent chance of a US recession over the coming year compared to a 40 percent chance by our economists and 27 percent chance by the consensus.”
Despite the likelihood of a slowdown, crude future prices were being supported by supply cuts started late last year by a group of producers around the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as non-OPEC Russia.
OPEC oil supply fell in December by 460,000 barrels per day (bpd), to 32.68 million bpd, a Reuters survey found last week, led by cuts from top exporter Saudi Arabia.
Potentially undermining OPEC’s efforts is swelling US oil supply.
US crude oil production stayed at a record 11.7 million bpd in the last week of 2018, according to weekly data by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released on Friday.
That makes the United States the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Record output is also swelling US fuel stockpiles.
Crude oil inventories rose by 7,000 barrels in the week ending Dec. 28, to 441.42 million barrels.
Distillate and gasoline stocks, however, rose by a whopping 9.5 million and 6.9 million barrels, to 119.9 million and 240 million barrels respectively, the EIA data showed.
“The US supply glut remains a bearish concern,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.


Oil prices fall as economic growth worries spread

Updated 25 min 37 sec ago
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Oil prices fall as economic growth worries spread

  • China on Monday reported its lowest economic growth figure since 1990, with GDP rising by 6.6 percent in 2018
  • ‘The effects of OPEC-led cuts ... will undoubtedly place a price floor under crude oil’

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell on Tuesday as signs of a spreading global economic slowdown stoked concerns over future fuel demand.
International Brent crude oil futures were at $62.26 per barrel at 0410 GMT, down 48 cents, or 0.8 percent, from their previous close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.44 per barrel, down 0.7 percent, or 36 cents.
China on Monday reported its lowest economic growth figure since 1990, with GDP rising by 6.6 percent in 2018.
“Slowing manufacturing activity in China is likely weighing on demand,” said Singapore-based tanker brokerage Eastport on Tuesday, adding that industrial slowdowns tended to be leading indicators that only gradually fed into lower demand for shipped oil products.
In a sign of spreading economic weakness, South Korea’s export-oriented economy slowed to a six-year low growth rate of 2.7 percent in 2018, official data showed on Tuesday.
This followed the International Monetary Fund on Monday trimming its 2019 global growth forecasts to 3.5 percent, down from 3.7 percent in last October’s outlook.
“After two years of solid expansion, the world economy is growing more slowly than expected and risks are rising,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told reporters.
Despite the darkening outlook, oil prices have been getting some support from supply cuts that started in late 2018 by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
“The effects of OPEC-led cuts ... will undoubtedly place a price floor under crude oil,” said Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures on Tuesday.