Oil edges up on supply cuts, but recession fears cap market

Above, an oil pumpjack and a tank at a facility of state owned Petróleos de Venezuela, SA in Lagunillas, Venezuela. (Reuters)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Oil edges up on supply cuts, but recession fears cap market

  • Prices have also been driven up by US sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuela
  • Manufacturing data from Asia, Europe and North America is pointing to a sharp economic slowdown

SINGAPORE: Oil prices edged up on Tuesday, lifted by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, but signs of a sharp economic slowdown and potentially even a recession kept markets from rising further.
Brent crude oil futures were at $67.33 per barrel at 0416 GMT, up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were at $59.26 per barrel, up 44 cents, or 0.8 percent, from their last settlement.
Oil prices have been supported for much of 2019 by efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-affiliated allies like Russia, who have pledged to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of supply this year to prop up markets.
Prices have also been driven up by US sanctions on oil exporters and OPEC-members Iran and Venezuela.
Yet analysts said oil prices would likely be higher by now if it wasn’t for a spreading economic slowdown that some say could turn into a recession soon and dent fuel consumption.
“Recession risks have risen to the highest since 2008,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.
Manufacturing data from Asia, Europe and North America is pointing to a sharp economic slowdown.
“Global factory output growth slowed to a 1 percent rate last quarter, and indicators point to a near stall this quarter,” said JPMorgan Chase Bank.
“Outside China, Asian industry was already contracting as we turned into the New Year,” the US bank added.


Crude futures steady after fall on US oil products stocks gain

Updated 17 min 16 sec ago
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Crude futures steady after fall on US oil products stocks gain

  • Oil prices have fallen this week as worries over a Middle East conflict have eased
  • US crude inventories fell 3.1 million barrels, the US Energy Information Administration said

TOKYO: Oil prices steadied on Thursday after falling in the previous session when official data showed US stockpiles of products like gasoline rose sharply last week, suggesting weak demand during the peak driving season.
Brent crude futures were up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $63.80 a barrel by 0237 GMT. They fell 1.1 percent on Wednesday.
US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 1 cent at $56.77. The US benchmark dropped 1.5 percent in the previous session.
Oil prices have fallen this week as worries over a Middle East conflict have eased, oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has resumed after a storm and worries have emerged over Chinese economic growth. The “easing of tensions between the US and Iran, mixed Chinese growth data and storm-hit operations getting back online are all pressuring oil prices downward,” said Alfonso Esparza senior market analyst at OANDA.
Japan’s exports fell for a seventh straight month in June, with shipments to China falling more than 10 percent, while Japanese manufacturers’ business confidence fell to a three-year low.
On the oil supply front, data on Wednesday from the US Energy Information Administration showed a larger-than-expected drawdown in crude stockpiles last week, but traders focused on large builds in refined product inventories dragging prices down.
US crude inventories fell 3.1 million barrels, the EIA said, more than analysts’ forecasts for a decrease of 2.7 million barrels.
However, gasoline stocks rose 3.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 925,000-barrel drop. Distillate stockpiles grew by 5.7 million barrels, much more than expectations for a 613,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
“Gasoline consumption is painfully weak given US consumers are in peak driving season,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets.
Crude production was disrupted last week by Storm Barry, which came ashore on Saturday in central Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, the first major storm to hit the US Gulf of Mexico this season.
More than half of daily crude production in the Gulf of Mexico remained offline by Tuesday, as most oil companies were re-staffing facilities to resume production.
The market shrugged of another incident involving a tanker in the Middle East amid tensions between the United States and Iran.
US officials say they are unsure whether an oil tanker towed into Iranian waters was seized by Iran or rescued after facing mechanical faults as Tehran asserts, creating a mystery at a time of high tension in the Middle East.