Resource stocks rally as oil surges, bonds suffer

Posted April 20, 2018

Prices are now pressing late 2014-highs, supported by a decline in USA crude inventories and a drive by Saudi Arabia to push prices into the $80 to $100 per barrel area by continuing to withhold supplies.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 settled at $73.48 a barrel, up $1.90, or 2.7 percent. USA crude gained 26 cents to $68.73.

Oil prices rose to their highest level since late 2014 after government data indicated US crude stockpiles fell last week and as the market continued to worry about supply disruptions in key oil producing nations.

Stockpiles of gasoline also dropped by 3 million barrels, while distillate fuels including diesel declined by 3.1 million barrels.

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Truth be told, Saudi Arabia appears to need the agreement to go further, with a coveted rough cost of $80 or even $100, as indicated by senior Saudi authorities in late shut entryway briefings. The U.S. draw-downs underlined optimism that an OPEC-led effort to curb global supplies will be reinforced later this week when the cartel and allied producers gather in Saudi Arabia. The global economy is expected to expand this year at its fastest pace since 2010, the latest Reuters polls of more than 500 economists worldwide suggest, but trade protectionism could quickly slow it down.

While analysts forecast Brent to rally up to $80 per barrel in the run up to the USA strikes against Syrian targets, such a high is likely to remain for a "short period but not be sustained", cautioned Spencer Welch, oil markets director at IHS Markit.

IHS expects the oil price to be lower in 2019 on the expectation of rising U.S. production that could cause the market to over-supply again.

"Some of this restricted (Opec) oil production might start to return to the market", he added.

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The impression is that oil prices are seen as not yet high enough to encourage sufficient oil investment. "So they might continue to squeeze the lemon while they have the chance", said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.

The cuts have been even bigger than those specified in the deal, thanks in part to a slide in Venezuelan production due to an economic crisis in the South American country.

The Jeddah meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee is unlikely to change the parameters for assessing the deal's success, Mazroui and other OPEC officials said, and sources see little chance of a major tweak in June.

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