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Oil Prices Take a Dip Amidst Weaker Data from China and Stronger Dollar

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Oil prices experienced a decline on Tuesday, with Brent crude oil dropping by 41 cents or 0.48% to $85.77 per barrel at 2:00 pm Nigerian time, while the US West Texas Intermediate crude fell by 40 cents or 0.5% to $80.06.

The decline in prices was attributed to a stronger US dollar and weak oil data from China, which shifted momentum after five days of gains.

The U.S. dollar rose ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jeremy Powell’s testimony to Congress, which is focused on whether the Fed is on the right path to keep inflation on a steady decline towards its 2% target.

A stronger dollar typically reduces demand for dollar-denominated oil from buyers paying with other currencies.

Further pressure came from a contraction in China’s exports and imports in January and February, including crude oil imports, despite a lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, pointing to weakness in foreign demand.

Iris Pang, ING’s chief economist for Greater China, noted that “Given the high inflation in the U.S. and Europe, demand from there should keep weakening, which also dampens processing demand in China.”

Despite the declines, supply concerns limited the dip. Chevron (CVX.N) Chief Executive Mike Wirth recently commented that there is “not a lot of swing capacity,” making the global market vulnerable to any unexpected supply disruption. Additionally, U.S. crude inventories could see their first decrease in 10 weeks, as per a Reuters poll before official data is published this week.

Oil prices can be unpredictable, and it is important to stay up-to-date with market trends and fluctuations. The American Petroleum Institute’s weekly report is due at 2130 GMT on Tuesday, followed by Energy Information Administration data at 1530 GMT on Wednesday.

While there are supply concerns, it remains to be seen whether oil prices will continue their downward trend amidst stronger economic factors.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Dip Amidst Middle East Tensions, Market Reaction Limited

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Oil prices fell on Monday as market participants reevaluated their risk premiums in the wake of Iran’s weekend attack on Israel, which the Israeli government said caused limited damage.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced,  dipped by 50 cents, or 0.5%, to $89.95 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil fell by 52 cents, or 0.6%, to $85.14 a barrel.

The attack, involving over 300 missiles and drones, marked the first assault on Israel from another country in more than three decades. It heightened concerns over a potential broader regional conflict impacting oil traffic through the Middle East.

However, Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepted many of the missiles, and the attack resulted in only modest damage and no reported loss of life.

Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING, noted that the market had largely priced in the potential attack in the days leading up to it. The limited damage and the absence of casualties suggest that Israel’s response may be more measured, which could help stabilize the oil market.

Iran, a major oil producer within OPEC, currently produces over 3 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil. The potential risks include stricter enforcement of oil sanctions and the possibility of Israeli targeting of Iran’s energy infrastructure, according to ING.

Nevertheless, OPEC possesses over 5 million bpd of spare production capacity, which could help mitigate any supply disruptions.

Analysts from ANZ Research and Citi Research have suggested that further significant impact on oil prices would require a material disruption to supply, such as constraints on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. So far, the Israel-Hamas conflict has not had a notable effect on oil supply.

The market remains watchful of Israel’s response to the attack, which could influence the future trajectory of oil prices and broader geopolitical tensions in the region.

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Nigeria’s Crude Oil Production Falls for Second Consecutive Month, OPEC Reports

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Nigeria’s crude oil production declined for the second consecutive month in March, according to the latest report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Data obtained from OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report for April 2024 reveals that Nigeria’s crude oil production depreciated from 1.322 million barrels per day (mbpd) in February to 1.231 mbpd in March.

This decline underscores the challenges faced by Africa’s largest oil-producing nation in maintaining consistent output levels.

Despite efforts to stabilize production, Nigeria has struggled to curb the impact of oil theft and pipeline vandalism, which continue to plague the industry.

The theft and sabotage of oil infrastructure have resulted in significant disruptions, contributing to the decline in crude oil production observed in recent months.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) recently disclosed alarming statistics regarding oil theft incidents in the country.

According to reports, the NNPCL recorded 155 oil theft incidents within a single week, these incidents included illegal pipeline connections, refinery operations, vessel infractions, and oil spills, among others.

The persistent menace of oil theft poses a considerable threat to Nigeria’s economy and its position as a key player in the global oil market.

The illicit activities not only lead to revenue losses for the government but also disrupt the operations of oil companies and undermine investor confidence in the sector.

In response to the escalating problem, the Nigerian government has intensified efforts to combat oil theft and vandalism.

However, addressing these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach, including enhanced security measures, regulatory reforms, and community engagement initiatives.

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Oil Prices Edge Higher Amidst Fear of Middle East Conflict

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Amidst growing apprehensions of a potential conflict in the Middle East, oil prices have inched higher as investors anticipate a strike from Iran.

The specter of a showdown between Iran or its proxies and Israel has sent tremors across the oil market as traders brace for possible supply disruptions in the region.

Brent crude oil climbed above the $90 price level following a 1.1% gain on Wednesday while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) hovered near $86.

The anticipation of a strike, believed to be imminent by the United States and its allies, has cast a shadow over market sentiment. Such an escalation would follow Iran’s recent threat to retaliate against Israel for an attack on a diplomatic compound in Syria.

The trajectory of oil prices this year has been heavily influenced by geopolitical tensions and supply dynamics. Geopolitical unrest, coupled with ongoing OPEC+ supply cuts, has propelled oil prices nearly 18% higher since the beginning of the year.

However, this upward momentum is tempered by concerns such as swelling US crude stockpiles, now at their highest since July, and the impact of a hot US inflation print on Federal Reserve rate-cut expectations.

Despite the bullish sentiment prevailing among many of the world’s top traders and Wall Street banks, with some envisioning a return to $100 for the global benchmark, caution lingers.

Macquarie Group has cautioned that Brent could enter a bear market in the second half of the year if geopolitical events fail to materialize into actual supply disruptions.

“The current geopolitical environment continues to provide support to oil prices,” remarked Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy for ING Groep NV in Singapore. However, he added, “further upside is limited without a fresh catalyst or further escalation in the Middle East.”

The rhetoric from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reaffirming a vow to retaliate against Israel, has only heightened tensions in the region.

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