Oil rose towards $73 a barrel on Friday, supported by growing signs of supply tightness in the United States as a result of Hurricane Ida and as U.S.-China trade hopes gave riskier assets a boost.
About three-quarters of the U.S. Gulf’s offshore oil production, or about 1.4 million barrels per day, has remained halted since late August.
Figures this week showed U.S. crude inventories fell to the lowest since September 2019.
“With the restart in offshore crude production lagging, the odds are that the Ida effect will still be felt in the coming weeks,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
Oil and equity markets also got a boost from news of a call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. The call raised hopes for warmer relations and more global trade, analysts said.
“The Biden-Xi phone call has had the same effect on oil markets as it has on other asset classes,” said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at brokerage OANDA.
Brent was on track to end the week with a small gain and has rallied almost 40% this year, driven by supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and some demand recovery from the pandemic.
On Thursday, both crude contracts had fallen more than 1% after China said it would release crude oil reserves via public auction to help ease high feedstock costs for refiners, a move described as a first.
In focus next week will be revisions to the oil demand outlook for 2022 from OPEC and the International Energy Agency, and whether the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 delays a full return to 2019 demand levels.
Oil Holds Near Highest Since 2018 With Global Markets Tightening
Oil held steady near the highest close since 2018, with the global energy crunch set to increase demand for crude as stockpiles fall from the U.S. to China.
Futures in London headed for a third weekly gain. Global onshore crude stocks sank by almost 21 million barrels last week, led by China, according to data analytics firm Kayrros, while U.S. inventories are near a three-year low. The surge in natural gas prices is expected to force some consumers to switch to oil, tightening the market further ahead of the northern hemisphere winter.
China on Friday sold oil to Hengli Petrochemical Co. and a unit of PetroChina Co. in the first auction of crude from its strategic reserves said traders with the knowledge of the matter. Grades sold included Oman, Upper Zakum and Forties.
Oil has rallied recently after a period of Covid-induced demand uncertainty, with some of the world’s largest traders and banks predicting prices may climb further amid the energy crisis. Global crude consumption could rise by an additional 370,000 barrels a day if natural gas costs stay high, according to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“Underpinning the latest bout of price strength is a tightening supply backdrop,” said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd.
Various underlying oil market gauges are also pointing to a strengthening market. The key spread between Brent futures for December and a year later is near $7, the strongest since 2019. That’s a sign traders are positive about the market outlook.
At the same time, the premium options traders are paying for bearish put options is the smallest since January 2020, another indication that traders are less concerned about a pullback in prices.
Oil Gains 1 Percent on Possible Tight Supply
Oil prices rose on Tuesday as analysts pointed to signs of U.S. supply tightness, ending days of losses as global markets remain haunted by the potential impact on China’s economy of a crisis at heavily indebted property group China Evergrande.
Brent crude gained 95 cents or 1.3% to $74.87 a barrel by 0645 GMT, having fallen by almost 2% on Monday. The contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) , which expires later on Tuesday, was up 91 cents or 1.3% at $71.20 after dropping 2.3% in the previous session.
Global utilities are switching to fuel oil due to rising gas and coal prices, and lingering outages from the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ada that imply less supply is available, ANZ analysts said.
“While slowing Chinese economic growth and uncertainty around the (U.S.) Fed’s tapering timetable weighed on market sentiment, other developments still point to higher oil prices,” ANZ Research said in a note.
Still, investors across financial assets have been rocked by the fallout from heavily indebted Evergrande (3333.HK) and the threat of a wider market shakeout in the longer term.
“Evergrande’s woes are threatening the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy and making some investors question China’s growth outlook and whether it is safe to invest there,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.
While that view of the state of China’s economy is weighing on markets, the U.S. Federal Reserve is also expected to start tightening monetary policy – likely to make investors warier of riskier assets such as oil.
Crude Oil Drops as U.S Dollar Extends Gain
Oil prices declined on Monday after the United States Dollar rose to a three-week high and the U.S oil rig count increased amid drop in U.S. Gulf of Mexico output.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, sheds $1.03 or 1.37 percent to $74.31 per barrel at 9.38 am Nigerian time. While the U.S West Texas Intermediate oil declined by $1.18 or 1.64 per barrel to $70.79 a barrel.
The recent increase in dollar strength against global currencies has dragged on crude oil outlook as energy investors cut down on imports to avoid possible market headwinds. Strong U.S. dollar priced crude oil is more expensive for holders of other currencies.
U.S dollar rose to a three-week high after retail sales unexpected rose by 0.7 percent in the month of August. The increase bolstered expectations that the U.S Federal Reserve will start cuttiing down on asset purchases later this year.
“U.S. consumption is not slowing as quickly as it appeared a month ago despite the fading stimulus, and the Delta variant did not much affect the industries feeding into retail sales,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FHN Financial in New York. “The economy continued to hum in August.”
According to the researchers at ING Bank, strong US dollar over the last few days has provided some headwinds to the market.
Also, an increase in U.S rig count to 512 in the week ended September 17, 2021 clouded the oil market. Oil rige rose by 9, the highest since April 2020.
Still, as at Friday 23 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude output, or 422,078 barrels per day, remained shut, stated the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
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