Oil market confused by mixed signals

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Oil market confused by mixed signals

Global benchmark Brent crude jumped over 1 percent to $71.56 per barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up as much as 1.4 percent at $64.45 per barrel.

The combined supply cuts have helped to drive a 32 percent rally in crude prices this year to almost $72 a barrel, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump to call on OPEC to ease its market-supporting efforts.

Oil markets have been pushed up by more than a third this year by supply cuts led by the OPEC, US sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuela, and escalating fighting in Libya.

"We believe global demand has another 10 million barrels bpd of growth, with over half from China", Bernstein Energy said in a note on Thursday.

"Clearly, oil prices at $70/bbl for Brent, are less comfortable for consumers than they were at the start of the year and the IEA has regularly warned of the dangers of prices rising even higher".

In its April report the IEA maintained its forecast for oil demand growth in 2019 at 1.4 million barrels per day. Demand for OPEC crude in 2018 averaged 31.35 million bpd.

On Thursday, the 11th of April 2019, both U.S. and United Kingdom crude fell more than one percent after sources had revealed that the OPEC, a 14-nation pact of petroleum exporting nations, had been giving a second thought over their production cut policy until the end of 2019.

OPEC also revised down non-OPEC oil supply growth in 2019 by 60,000 bpd "due to extended maintenance in Kazakhstan, Brazil and Canada". Conflict between the USA and Iran could have also helped boost oil prices considering the risk of President Trump extending Iranian restrictions.

Saudi Arabia can add more oil to the market without adjusting production quotas since the kingdom's output in March was some 500,000 bpd below its OPEC target, the source added.

Meanwhile, the latest EIA report showed that the USA crude inventories rose 7 million barrels to 456.6 million barrels in the last week, their highest since November 2017.

In 2018 OPEC+ chose to increase output at its mid-year meeting, only to return to production cuts in 2019. However, U.S. gasoline stocks fell by a whopping 7.7 million barrels, sending U.S. gasoline futures higher by 3.5 per cent on their close on Wednesday.

At the same time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that OPEC production fell 550,000 bpd.

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