Oil falls almost 2pc on weaker demand, rising US inventories
Oil prices fell almost 2 per cent yesterday, weighed down by a weaker outlook for demand and a rise in US crude inventories despite expectations of extended supply cuts led by OPEC. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were down $1.17, or 1.9pc, at $61.12 a barrel by 1407 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down $1.13, or 2.1pc, at $52.14. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) cut its forecasts for 2019 world oil demand growth and US crude production on Tuesday. A surprise increase in US crude stockpiles also kept oil prices under pressure.
“Yesterday’s bout of paralysis is giving way to a fresh slide in prices as market players fret over a swelling glut in US oil stockpiles,” brokerage firm PVM said in a note. US crude inventories rose by 4.9 million barrels in the week ended June 7 to 482.8 million barrels, data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday. That compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 481,000 barrels.
Trade tensions between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest oil consumers, also weighed on prices. US President Donald Trump said he was holding up a trade deal with China. European shares pulled back from three-week highs on Wednesday as this month’s recovery rally ran out of steam on the back of soft Chinese factory activity and trade frictions. Hedge fund managers are liquidating bullish oil positions at the fastest rate since the fourth quarter of 2018. With the next meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries set for the end of June, the market is looking to whether the world’s major oil producers will prolong their supply cuts.
OPEC, along with non-members including Russia, have limited their oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day since the start of the year to prop up prices. Goldman Sachs said an uncertain macroeconomic outlook and volatile oil production from Iran and others could lead OPEC to roll over supply cuts. “The sell off in recent weeks shows how vulnerable the market is and it may force Russia’s hand in extending the deal,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING.
The energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui, said on Tuesday that OPEC members were close to reaching an agreement on continuing production cuts.