Crude Oil Brent Futures Market News and Commentary
Sep WTI crude oil (CLU19) this morning is up by +0.12 (+0.22%), Oct Brent crude oil (CBV19) is up by +0.24 (+0.41%), and Sep RBOB gasoline (RBU19) is up by +0.0064 (+0.39%). The energy complex is higher today on an easing of trade tensions after President Trump late Thursday said he had a call scheduled "very soon" with Chinese President Xi Jinping on trade. Gains in the energy complex were limited after the dollar index rose to a 2-week high today. Crude prices also fell back from their best levels after OPEC today in its monthly report said global oil markets face a "somewhat bearish" outlook for the rest of the year amid slowing economic growth and the lingering trade war. Another bearish factor for crude is stronger-than-expected Russian crude output after Interfax reported today that Russian crude production during Aug 1-15 was 11.32 million bpd, above the 11.19 million bpd level Russia agreed to with OPEC. Today's U.S. economic data was mixed for crude prices. On the negative side, July housing starts unexpectedly fell -4.0% to a 5-month low of 1.191 million, weaker than expectations of +0.2% to 1.256 million. Also, the preliminary-Aug University of Michigan U.S. consumer sentiment index fell sharply by -6.3 points to a 7-month low of 92.1, weaker than expectations of -1.4 to 97.0. On the positive side, July building permits, a proxy for future construction, rose +8.4% to a 7-month high of 1.336 million, stronger than expectations of +3.1% to 1.270 million. Crude oil prices have underlying support from last week's news that Saudi Arabia plans to curb its crude exports. The state-run Saudi Arabia Oil company, Aramco, said last Thursday that it will cut its allocations to customers in September by 700,000 bpd to keep Saudi oil exports below 7.0 million bpd. Wednesday's EIA data showed that U.S. crude oil inventories as of Aug 9 were +3.4% above the seasonal 5-year average, gasoline inventories were +3.6% above the 5-year average, and distillate inventories were -3.1% below the 5-year average. U.S. crude production was unchanged at 12.3 million bpd in the week of Aug 9, which was just slightly below May's record high of 12.4 million bpd.