Oil Holds Gains as US Crude Stockpiles Seen Extending Decline

Posted June 28, 2017

Oil prices were sharply higher in North American trade on Tuesday, putting futures on track for their fourth up session in a row, as investors looked ahead to weekly data from the USA on stockpiles of crude and refined products.

Brent crude futures, the global benchmark for oil prices, gained $1.01 or 2.2 percent to $46.84 per barrel by 11:49 a.m. EDT (1549 GMT).

Figures of United States crude inventory are expected later today, which could determine if the market's gains stand to extend further.

Also, U.S. shale oil output is up around 10 percent since past year. Although U.S. imports of Saudi crude are still averaging higher than year-ago levels so far this year (to yesterday), this is in part due to strong arrivals in the first few months of the year (and particularly January, at almost 1.4 million barrels per day - wowzers) - offsetting recent weakness.

Despite the cuts, which started in January, markets remain well supplied due to rising output elsewhere.

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The cartel will not rush into making a further cut in oil output or end some countries' exemptions to output limits, OPEC delegates said earlier, although a meeting in Russian Federation next month is likely to consider further steps to support the market. After mid-June reports showed US crude oil inventories and gasoline levels increasing, federal data from last week showed an unexpected drop in gasoline stocks, just as crude oil prices charted new lows for the year.

Though oil rose as much as 1.4 per cent in NY yesterday, it is heading for the biggest monthly drop since July past year as global supply swells.

Analysts at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch said demand was not growing quickly enough to absorb output, especially since imports in Asia are stuttering.

However, he warned, "I'll tell you one thing: in the long run, crude oil is heading egregiously lower".

Iran was allowed a small increase to recover market share lost under Western sanctions. Brent advanced 0.6 %to $45.83 on Monday.

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"Therefore, I tend to think $40 to $42 from a West Texas Intermediate point of view should be the lower end of the current range".

The commodity has fallen almost 20 percent year to date, the biggest first-half slide in 20 years, according to Reuters.

Money managers' WTI net long positions, the difference between wagers on a price increase and bets on a decline, fell by 60,556 to 134,742 contracts, CFTC data showed. We think we'll probably catch a bid a few weeks out from there.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners have been trying to reduce a global crude glut with production cuts.

"Looking into the second half of 2017, we now doubt that demand growth will accelerate sufficiently", they wrote.

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