Oil prices edge lower after U.S. inventories build

05 April, 2019, 04:12 | Author: Erin Carter
  • OPEC-led production cut lends support to prices

The latest OPEC+ deal came just months after the group agreed to pump more oil, which in turn partially unwound their original supply-limiting accord that took effect in 2017.

Brent futures were unchanged at $69.37 a barrel by 11:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT). They earlier reached $69.96 - the highest since November 12, when they last traded above $70.

Brent oil prices rose on Thursday, briefly touching $70 a barrel for the first time since November as expectations of tight global supply outweighed pressure from rising USA production and less robust global demand indicators.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $62.64 cents a barrel.

The Energy Information Administration said the amount of oil stored in the U.S. jumped by 7.2m barrels last week, surprising analysts who were counting on a drop. Analysts in a survey of economists expected stockpiles to fall by 425,000 barrels.

The $70 level "could prove to be the real litmus test for this current rally", he added.

Despite the sharp increase in US crude inventories, market participants said prices were positioned to move up on tightening global supply and signs of demand picking up.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirmed a build up and reported a rise of 2.8 million barrels of crude oil inventories for the week.

If traders appeared to be taking the stockpile surge in stride, it's anyone's guess what their reaction will be to preliminary weekly data from the EIA showing USA production rising to 12.2 million barrels per day (bpd), which would be a record if confirmed.

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In a signal that supply may tighten more, a USA official said on Tuesday that three of eight countries granted waivers by Washington to import oil from Iran had cut such purchases to zero, adding that improved oil market conditions would help reduce Iranian crude exports further.

Meanwhile US production reached a record 12.2m barrels per day and imports rose to 386,000 barrels per day.

"Furthermore, the Saudis are unlikely to forget a year ago, where they increased output in the lead up to USA sanctions on Iran, only for the U.S. to provide waivers to a number of buyers of Iranian oil", Patterson added.

Signs of progress in U.S.

Oil prices hit their highest of 2019 on Tuesday, with Brent crude approaching $70 a barrel, on the prospect that more sanctions against Iran and further Venezuelan disruptions could deepen an OPEC-led supply cut.

Brent crude's rapid recovery this year - with the biggest quarterly gain in nearly a decade - is a victory for the production cuts of OPEC and its allies.

However, analysts say it remains unlikely that that Trump administration will not renew some of the waivers, despite officials continuing to speak publicly about zeroing out Iran's crude exports.

"On the demand side, easing economic slowdown fears are also offering support".

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