Oil rises 1% on supply cuts, gloomy economic outlook caps gains(Update)

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose by 1 percent on Tuesday amid supply cuts by producer club OPEC and Russia, although analysts said much bigger gains were unlikely because of a darkening economic outlook capped gains.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $59.62 per barrel at 0133 GMT, up 63 cents, or 1.1 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.01 per barrel, up 50 cents, or 1 percent, from their last settlement.

"The impact of OPEC+ (OPEC and others including Russia) cuts, Iran sanctions and lower month-on-month growth in U.S. production should help to support oil prices from current levels," U.S. bank J.P. Morgan said in a note.

The Middle East dominated producer club of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-OPEC allies, including Russia, agreed in late 2018 to cut supply to rein in a global glut.

Meanwhile, the United States last November re-imposed sanctions against Iran's oil exports. Although Washington granted sanctions waivers to Iran's biggest oil customers, mostly in Asia, the Middle Eastern country's exports have plummeted since.

While OPEC and Russia cut supply and Iran is restrained by sanctions, crude oil production in the United States hit a record 11.7 million barrels per day (bpd) late last year.

The surging output increasingly allows U.S. oil producers to export crude, including to top importer China.

Three cargoes of U.S. crude are currently heading to China from the U.S. Gulf Coast, the first departures since late September and a 90-day pause in the two countries' trade war that began last month.

The tankers are scheduled to arrive at Chinese ports between late January and early March, according to shipbrokers and vessel tracking data.

Looming over oil and financial markets, however, is an economic slowdown.

Tuesday's oil price increases came after crude futures fell by more than 2 percent the previous session, dragged down by weak Chinese trade data which pointed to a global economic slowdown.

"Given the heightened macro risk anxiety, any support from supply-side correction could be limited," J.P. Morgan said. - Reuters


Earlier report:

Oil falls 2% on concerns about weakening global economy

NEW YORK: Oil prices fell more than 2 percent on Monday, taking a pause after a recent rally, pressured by data showing weakening imports and exports in China that raised new worries about a global economic slowdown hurting crude demand.

Brent crude futures lost $1.49, or 2.5 percent, to settle at $58.99 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $1.08 to settle at $50.51 a barrel, a 2.1 percent loss.

Prices have gained more than 18 percent since sinking to one-and-a-half year lows in late December.

"We are thus far viewing today's price pullback as a deserved correction," Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note. "Some of the weakness appeared to develop in concert with a selloff in the equities while some profit-taking was also apparent given the fact that domestic fundamentals have yet to post improvement this year."

Technology shares pulled Wall Street lower, after an unexpected drop in China's exports in December re-ignited worries over an global economic slowdown.

The data out of China also weighed on oil prices. China's exports fell by the most in two years in December while imports contracted, official figures showed.

"Oil prices are getting weighted down by the prospects of weaker economic growth in China," Stephen Innes of futures brokerage Oanda said in a report.

"This data drives home just how negative of an impact trade war is having on the Chinese and perhaps global economy."

Despite concern about the outlook, there is little sign that Chinese oil demand has weakened yet. China's crude imports in December surged nearly 30 percent from a year earlier, Reuters calculations of customs data showed.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday that he is not worried about a global slowdown hurting oil demand as of yet.

"The global economy is strong enough, I'm not too concerned. If a slowdown happens, it will be mild, shallow and short," he told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

With the recent rally in prices, OPEC officials appear more confident that prices will be supported by output declines in January as producers implement the deal agreed to by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC allies, including Russia, in December to cut oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day.

Al-Falih said on Sunday the oil market was "on the right track" and there was no need for an extraordinary OPEC meeting before its next planned gathering in April. - Reuters

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