Oil futures fell by over $4 a barrel on Wednesday and Thursday but then stabilized on Friday to close at $71 in New York and $80 in London. Behind the selloff were a sharp drop in the equity markets, profit-taking in the wake of a $14 a barrel price increase since mid-August, and concerns that the Sino/US trade war may reduce global demand for oil. EIA, IEA, and OPEC revised their forecasts downward for the size of next year’s demand increase. The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for global growth to 3.7 percent for 2018 and 2019, down from a previous estimate of 3.9 percent, and the EIA reported that US crude stocks increased by 6 million barrels the week before last.
Oil prices continued to climb last week, with London futures hitting $86.74 a barrel on Wednesday, $10 higher than they were a month ago. Later in the week, profit taking and announcements from the Saudis and Russia that they were going to increase production drove prices lower. Whether the Saudis, Russia, and their close allies can increase production by enough to cover the decline in Iranian exports remains contentious. At week’s end, oil prices had settled to $74.34 in New York and $84.16 in London for a $10 a barrel difference.
Oil prices continue to increase primarily on concerns that the sanctions on Iran and the collapse of Venezuelan production will lead to shortages in the coming year. Last week London futures, which are more vulnerable to the Iranian situation, climbed by about $2 a barrel to close at $82.78. London futures are on track for a fifth quarterly advance, a streak not seen since the first half of 2008. Iranian exports of crude and condensates have declined by 800,000 b/d from April to September, according to the Institute of International Finance. Analysts expect a reduction of anywhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million b/d in Iranian supply due to the sanctions, with most expecting Saudi Arabia to take the lead in filling any supply gaps.
Oil prices continued to show strength last week but closed in London up by less than a dollar for the week at $78.80. Brent now has closed above $78 a barrel six times since mid-May and has touched $80 a barrel once or twice but failed to close above $80 since mid-2014. As is now routine, traders are split between the increasingly effective US sanctions on Iran and the prospects of a lengthy trade war between the US and China. Last week was complicated by the issue of whether the OPEC+ consortium would officially raise production or leave individual production levels cloudy as they have been since June.
Oil prices climbed for the first three days last week with Brent climbing above $80 a barrel on Wednesday before falling back to close at $78.09 on Friday. An unexpected drop in the US crude stocks of 5.3 million barrels and a warning from the IEA that the global oil market was tightening and that higher prices are coming were behind the spike. However, concerns that the Sino/American trade war is showing no sign of getting better took over and sent prices lower. During the week, the price spread between Brent and WTI climbed above the $10 a barrel mark and closed the week at $9. The size of the price spread should continue the export demand for WTI in the coming weeks sending US crude supplies even lower.
Oil prices fell by another $1-2 a barrel last week to settle at $67.75 in New York and $76.83 in London as the struggle between lower demand occasioned by the Sino-American trade war balanced against falling Iranian exports. Last week saw a storm in the Gulf of Mexico which did less damage than expected and a 4.3 million barrel drop in US crude inventories which brought them to the lowest since 2015. However, prices were driven lower as US gasoline stocks rose by 1.8 million barrels and distillate stockpiles by 3.1 million barrels, suggesting that the summer driving season has come to an end.
Oil prices had two down and three up days last week closing out Friday a dollar or so higher with NY futures at $69.80 and London at $77.64. The struggle between the soon-to-be-implemented Iran sanctions and the threat to demand posed by the trade war continues as the primary factor driving prices. An unexpectedly large drop in the US crude inventory of 2.6 million barrels last week and a four-unit increase in the US oil rig count last week contributed to the volatility of the market.
The oil price surge which began two weeks ago continued last week with prices rising by $4-5 a barrel to settle on Friday at $68.72 in New York and $75.82 in London. The markets are still conflicted as to whether a reduction in demand occasioned by the trade war or a drop in supply stemming from the Iranian sanctions, the Venezuelan collapse, and the slowing growth of US shale oil production will dominate the immediate future. Last week we learned that China may continue buying US crude, but will swap or sell the oil to third countries so that crude imports to China would not come directly from the US. Third party crude would not be subject to any tariffs imposed on US crude or give the appearance that Beijing is backing down in the trade confrontation with Washington. Any crude that comes from the US would reduce China’s dependence on the volatile Middle East.
Crude prices were up Thursday and Friday of last week but still closed with a seventh consecutive weekly loss for WTI — the longest losing streak since 2015. Fears that the multiple escalating trade wars will lead to a drop in global demand are trumping the warnings that the lack of sufficient investment and the beginning of problems with US shale oil output could lead to production shortfalls in the months ahead.
Oil prices slid about 3 percent last Wednesday as the trade dispute between the US and China escalated and after Chinese import data showed a slowdown in energy demand. However, prices recovered a bit on Friday as US sanctions against Iran looked as if they would tighten oil supplies ending up the week with New York futures at $67.63 and London at $72.81.
Oil prices fell last week mostly on concerns that the looming US-China trade war would stifle demand. There was a short-lived rally on Thursday after the stocks report showed a 3.8 million barrel increase in total crude stocks mostly due to lower exports, but a 1.1 million drop in the inventory at Cushing, Okla. For now, the markets seem well supplied with production by Russia, the Saudis and the Gulf Arabs increasing after the relaxation of the market cap, and there has not yet been a significant reduction in Iranian exports in response to the new US sanctions. The week ended with New York oil futures down to $68.49 and London down to $73.21.
Oil prices climbed steadily through Thursday last week, supported by easing US-EU trade tensions and a temporary shutdown by the Saudis of a critical crude oil shipping lane. On Friday prices fell in sympathy with the US equities market to end the week at $74.29 in London and $68.69 in New York. Crude prices were unfazed last week by the unexpectedly robust US GDP figure, or the threatening rhetoric exchanged between Tehran and Washington.
The $3 drop in US oil prices last Monday was a signal that the forces moving the oil market are changing. Last year, the main forces pushing the oil markets higher were the agreement by OPEC and its partners to lower production and the growth of global demand. This year, an array of factors are pressuring the oil markets: the US sanctions that threaten to cut Iranian oil exports; US-China trade tensions; OPEC’s decision to raise crude output; and dwindling oil production from Venezuela. Moreover, there are supply disruptions in Libya, the Canadian tar sands, Norway, and Nigeria that add to the uncertainties as does erratic policymaking in Washington, complete with threats to sell off part of the US strategic reserve and a weaker dollar.
Oil prices dropped suddenly last Wednesday on the news that yet another dispute in Libya had been settled so that the traditional Libyan National Oil company was back in business exporting oil from its major terminals. New York futures fell by $3.50 a barrel on the news, and the London price decreased by $6.50, with New York closing out the week at $71 and London at $75.33.
Oil prices traded in a narrow range last week, between $73-$74 a barrel in New York, and $77-78 in London. A surprise increase in the US crude stocks balanced off the uncertainties of the US-China trade war that began on Friday. The announcement that the Saudis had increased production by 500,000 b/d in June helped keep the lid on prices despite the worsening prospects for global trade.
In the two weeks since the OPEC+ coalition decided to increase oil production by an undefined amount, oil prices have risen steadily on fears that there will be oil shortages and higher prices in the coming months. New York oil futures closed above $74 a barrel last week and London closed above $79 on Friday. Driving the markets higher are disruptions to oil production in Venezuela, Libya, Canada, Nigeria, and the US efforts to force Iran to zero exports this fall. The situation is not helped by the slowdown in the increase in US shale oil production due largely to bottlenecks in moving Permian shale oil to markets. There is no sign of a letup in the global demand for oil which is expected to increase by 1.5 million b/d this year.
Oil prices, which have been falling since mid-May, fell more than $2 on Friday to settle at $65.06 in the US and $73.44 in London. For now, the chief concern is that the OPEC + coalition will raise or lift the production cap this coming Friday and allow as much as another 1.5 million b/d of crude to enter the market. Additional pressure on oil prices is coming from the looming Sino-American trade war which could damage the global economy and lower the demand for oil. The announcement that Beijing might impose a hefty tariff on the 360,000 b/d of crude that the US has been sending to China in recent months did not help the situation nor did the continual increase in US shale oil production despite the bottleneck on getting crude out of the Permian Basin. While the renewed US sanctions on Iran may eventually reduce its ability to export oil, these sanctions do not start up until later this year so that it will be well into 2019 before we have some idea of their effectiveness.
Oil futures traded in a narrow range last week, at circa $65 a barrel in New York, and $76 in London. The standoff between higher and lower oil prices continues apace. Those saying that prices will soon be higher are looking at the rapid decline of Venezuela’s oil production; the damage to Iran’s oil exports that could come from the new US sanctions; and the mounting obstacles to further rapid increases in US shale oil production. Those seeing lower prices ahead are citing the likelihood that OPEC+ will increase production later this month and the dangers to global demand stemming from the possible trade wars.
In a short trading week, oil prices closed mixed with London futures holding steady but New York declining on higher US oil output. US oil prices continue to fall well behind world prices, as booming shale oil production deals with pipeline constraints, leading to the biggest discount to North Sea Brent in three years. On Thursday, the discount climbed to over $11 a barrel. The weekly US stocks report showed that while oil production grew by 44,000 b/d, a drop in US imports and a surge in exports to 2.1 million b/d resulted in a decline in US commercial crude inventories of 3.6 million barrels from the week before last.
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Brent crude traded briefly at $80.18 a barrel on Thursday before slipping back to close the week at $78.51. This was the highest that London oil futures have traded since November 2014. New York futures closed the week at $71.28 which is more than $7 a barrel lower than London giving another push to US crude exports. The price jump came amidst a burst of bullish news including a larger-than-expected drop in US petroleum stocks of 1.3 million barrels of crude and a drop of 3.8 million barrels of gasoline. The short-lived spike also came just after a new Goldman report saying the US shale oil production can’t possibly make up for the potential loss of oil from the new Iran sanctions and that prices are likely to move higher.
Oil prices rose more than 3 percent last Wednesday after President Trump abandoned the Iranian nuclear deal and announced the “highest level” of sanctions against Tehran. The price surge stalled on Friday, however, after it looked likely that Europe would try to maintain the deal with Iran, which could keep that country’s crude exports on global markets. Crude futures closed the week just below multi-year highs with London at $77.12 and New York at $70.70, up 2.8 percent and 1.2 percent respectively.
Oil prices continued to climb last week and are now up nearly $8 a barrel in the past month with NY futures at $69.72 and London $74.87. US oil futures are now at their highest in more than three years, as global supplies remain tight and the market awaits new US sanctions against Iran which seem likely to be imposed later this week. According to the EIA, US domestic oil production continues to climb — up by another 33,000 b/d the week before last — and US drillers added nine oil rigs to the count last week. Thus the struggle between increasing US shale oil production and deteriorating geopolitical situations around the world continues.
With only two weeks to go before President Trump decides whether the US will withdraw from the Iran nuclear treaty, the oil market’s chief concern is about what could happen if the US reimposes sanctions. Even though Washington would have few, if any, allies helping to reimpose sanctions on Iran, the US carries considerable weight in the world banking system by threatening to deny access to the US to anyone doing business with Tehran. Conventional wisdom holds that renewed sanctions would slow Iranian oil exports and drive prices higher.
In the last two weeks, London oil futures have increased by $7 a barrel, closing last week at $74.06. New York futures closed circa $5.50 below London. This price differential is making US crude very popular on the world markets so that exports are setting records and drawing down US crude stocks. Behind the price surge is the steady drop in world crude stocks; strong demand from Asia as China’s economy grows faster than forecast; the likelihood that OPEC will continue its production cut on into next year; and the possibility that the Trump administration will abandon the nuclear treaty and impose new sanctions on Iran. There also are the deteriorating situations in Venezuela where production seems likely to drop by hundreds of thousands of barrels per day this year, and in Libya where the incapacitation of the country’s military strongman could result in a drop in oil production as local militias reassert themselves.