Oil prices rise over 2 percent on trade talk optimism

Ivan Schwartz
January 9, 2019

The energy alliance between kingpin and non-OPEC heavyweight faces its "toughest test yet" next week, analysts have told CNBC, ahead of a much-anticipated meeting between the influential oil cartel and its allies.

Brent for March settlement gained 2.4% to settle at $58.72 on the ICE Futures Europe Exchange in London.

The market is closely watching US supplies, which analysts expect pulled back 3.3 million barrels in the latest week.

International Brent crude futures were at $57.42 per barrel at 0742 GMT, up 9 cents, or 0.2 per cent from their last close. In Tuesday dealings, February West Texas Intermediate crude CLG9, +1.73% was up $1.36, or 2.8%, at $49.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Data showed that stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, a key delivery hub for USA crude futures, decreased by 565,000 barrels from December 3 to December 4, according to Genscape, a US global commodity and energy markets intelligence firm.

Futures in NY increased as much as 1.9% following six days of gains, the longest streak of increases since July 2017. "Momentum is coming back into the market from very depressed price levels", Petromatrix strategist Olivier Jakob said, according to Reuters. Prices drew support from a Wall Street Journal report saying that Saudi Arabia is planning to cut crude exports to around 7.1 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of January.

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Opec and sovereign producer allies outside the exporters' group led by Russian Federation agreed in December to cut production to the tune of 1.2 million barrels per day starting January for a period of six months. "The Fed's easier stance and Opec's commitment to cut production as well as expectations that inventories should drop are lending a hand to this positive investor sentiment". To date, a 10 percent tariff is in still place on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods entering the US, while that figure could increase to 25 percent with another $267 billion worth of additional Chinese goods levied if the two sides can't read a trade deal by their self-imposed March 2 deadline.

Because of record USA crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA of 11.7 million bpd, American fuel stockpiles are rising, according to weekly data by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

A trade agreement could mitigate the global economic slowdown and keep global oil demand high; however, failure to reach a deal would worsen economic growth prospects and keep a downward pressure on oil demand and prices, according to experts.

S&P Global Ratings said it had lowered its average oil price forecasts for 2019 by $10 per barrel to $55 and $50 per barrel, respectively.

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