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Crude Oil WTI Apr '19 (CLJ19)

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Crude Oil WTI Futures Market News and Commentary

Crude Oil Rallies to a 3-1/4 Month High on Demand Optimism and Smaller Supplies

Apr WTI crude oil (CLJ19) on Friday closed up +$0.30 (+0.53%) per barrel and Apr Brent crude (CBJ19) closed up +$0.05 (+0.07%). Apr RBOB gasoline (RBJ19) closed down -0.009 cents per gallon (-0.05%). The energy complex rallied to 3-1/4 month highs Friday on optimism the U.S. and China will find a resolution to their trade conflict, which could boost global economic growth and energy demand. Crude prices have been firm for most of this week on signs of smaller global supplies after Tuesday's report that Saudi Arabian crude exports fell sharply by -1.3 million bpd in the first half of Feb compared with the same period last month. Another supportive factor was Friday's projection from tanker tracker Oil Movements that OPEC crude oil shipments will decline by -260,000 bpd to 24.08 million bpd in the four weeks to March 9. Gasoline prices also have carry-over support from Thursday's EIA data showing that weekly EIA gasoline stockpiles fell -1.454 million bbl, a bigger decline than expectations of -500,000 bbl. Crude prices maintained their gains after Friday afternoon's data from Baker Hughes showed that active U.S. oil rigs fell by -4 rigs in the week ended Feb 22 to 853 rigs. Thursday's weekly EIA data was mostly bearish as it showed a +0.8% w/w increase in U.S. crude production the week of Feb 15 to a record high of 12.0 million bpd and that U.S. crude inventories rose +3.67 million bbl to a 1-1/4 year high of 454.5 million bbl, above expectations of +3.0 million bbl increase. In addition, crude stocks at Cushing, the delivery point for WTI crude oil futures, jumped +3.41 million bbl to a 13-month high.Big Picture Crude Oil Market Factors: Bullish factors include (1) the -1.53 million bpd decline in OPEC Jan crude production to a 4-year low of 31.02 million bpd, (2) comments from Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih who said that Saudi Arabia will cut its crude production to 9.8 million bpd in March, the lowest in 11 months and well below the 10.3 million bpd output target agreed in the OPEC+ deal, (3) the action by the Trump administration to slap sanctions on Venezuela's national oil company PDVSA, which will block the company from exporting crude oil to the U.S. and restrict supplies, (4) the reinstatement of full U.S. sanctions on Iran as of Nov 5, although the U.S. gave waivers to 8 countries for up to 1.25 mln bpd of Iranian exports, and (5) the agreement by OPEC+ on Dec 7 to cut crude oil production by 1.2 million bpd for the first six months of 2019 (800,000 bpd for OPEC members), which should soak up much of the expected 2019 global oil surplus. Bearish factors include (1) the surge in U.S. oil production to a record high of 12.0 million bpd, (2) the recent surge in U.S. gasoline inventories to a record high 259.6 million bbl, and (3) the increase in crude supplies at Cushing, the delivery point for WTI futures, to a 13-month high.
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