Oil rises on hopes U.S-China trade talks can avert economic slowdown
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices jumped by more than 1 percent on Monday, pushed up by optimism that talks in Beijing can resolve a trade war between the United States and China, while supply cuts by major producers also supported crude.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 were at $57.86 per barrel at 0538 GMT, up 80 cents, or 1.4 percent, from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 were at $48.77 per barrel, up 81 cents, or 1.7 percent.
Financial markets were riding a relief rally on Monday on expectations that face-to-face trade negotiations between delegates from Washington and Beijing, starting Monday, would lead to an easing in tensions between the two biggest economies in the world.
The United States and Beijing have been locked in an escalating trade spat since early 2018, raising import tariffs on each other’s goods. The dispute has weighed on economic growth.
In the latest sign of widespread economic slowdown which could also hit fuel demand, British new car sales in 2018 fell at their fastest rate since the global financial crisis a decade ago, preliminary data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed on Monday.
Goldman Sachs said in a note on Monday it had downgraded its average Brent crude oil forecast for 2019 from $70 per barrel to $62.50 a barrel because of “the strongest macro headwinds since 2015.”
J.P. Morgan said in a note late last week that “the 3 percent global growth pace we have been anticipating for the next two quarters looks increasingly challenging.
(Record U.S. output weighs on crude: tmsnrt.rs/2GYfhAi)
The bank also said that “bond and commodity markets appear to be pricing in on average close to a 60 percent chance of a U.S. recession over the coming year compared to a 40 percent chance by our economists and 27 percent chance by the consensus.”
OPEC CUTS, RISING U.S. SUPPLY
Despite the likelihood of a slowdown, crude future prices were being supported by supply cuts started late last year by a group of producers around the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as non-OPEC Russia.
OPEC oil supply fell in December by 460,000 barrels per day (bpd), to 32.68 million bpd, a Reuters survey found last week, led by cuts from top exporter Saudi Arabia.
Potentially undermining OPEC’s efforts is swelling U.S. oil supply.
U.S. crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA stayed at a record 11.7 million bpd in the last week of 2018, according to weekly data by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released on Friday.
That makes the United States the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Record output is also swelling U.S. fuel stockpiles.
Crude oil inventories C-STK-T-EIA rose by 7,000 barrels in the week ending Dec. 28, to 441.42 million barrels.
Distillate and gasoline stocks, however, rose by a whopping 9.5 million and 6.9 million barrels, to 119.9 million and 240 million barrels respectively, the EIA data showed.
“The U.S. supply glut remains a bearish concern,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.
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