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Oil set for biggest weekly loss since early March

Apr 21 2017 11:42
Bloomberg: Ben Sharples and Grant Smith

London - Oil headed for its biggest weekly loss since early March as signals from OPEC that it will persevere with output cuts failed to offset evidence that US supplies are plentiful.

Front-month futures in New York are down 4.7% this week after a four-day selloff. While a number of producing nations have reached an initial deal to extend supply curbs past June, according to Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, data showing rising US output is prompting concern that those reductions will be undermined.

“We are once again seeing the emerging stalemate between OPEC and non-OPEC cutting efforts on one side and rising US production on the other,” said Ole Sloth Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen.

“We are currently testing the lower end of the range. This market is unlikely to go anywhere for the foreseeable future.”

Oil’s rally has faltered after three straight weekly gains on expectations the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies will extend its supply reductions. Prices dropped by more than 3.8% on Wednesday after data showed US crude production rose for a ninth straight week, even as stockpiles continued to decline from a record.

West Texas Intermediate for June delivery was at $50.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 5 cents, at 10:53 in London. Total volume traded was about 37% below the 100-day average. The May contract expired on Thursday down 17c at $50.27, the lowest close for front-month futures since April 3.

US output

Brent for June settlement slipped 5c to $52.94 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices are down about 5.3% this week. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $2.28 to WTI.

Goldman Sachs said there’s no fundamental evidence in the oil market to justify the slide, which was driven by technical indicators.

“We view technicals rather than fundamentals as the driver of this move lower,” Goldman said in an April 20 report, referring to Wednesday’s drop.

The US inventory data released the same day was “in line with expectations,” and the slide accelerated as prices traded through their 50- and 100-day moving averages, the bank said.

Still, OPEC itself is voicing concern over the global glut it aims to ease. The group and other nations have failed after three months of curbs to achieve their target of reducing global inventories below the five-year historical average, Saudi Oil Minister  Khalid Al-Falih said.

OPEC will decide at a meeting on May 25 whether to prolong its pledged cuts into the second half.

Oil-market news:

US crude production rose by 17 000 barrels a day to 9.25 million a day last week, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s the highest since August 2015. Stockpiles dropped by 1.03 million barrels to 532.3 million.

Gulf Cooperation Council countries agreed to push for an extension to the OPEC-led cuts in a meeting on Wednesday, Oman Oil Minister  Mohammed Al Rumhy said in an interview in Abu Dhabi.  Libya’s El-Feel oil field is ready to resume production after a two-year halt in operations that crimped the OPEC nation’s output, but there’s a problem: It doesn’t have enough electricity to pump the crude.

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commodities  |  markets  |  oil

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