Oil Trades Near Five-Week High as Stronger Demand Pares Surplus

MIDLAND, TX – FEBRUARY 05: An oil drill is viewed near a construction site for homes and office buildings on February 5, 2015 in Midland, Texas. As crude oil prices have fallen nearly 60 percent globally, American communities dependent on oil revenue prepare for hard times. Texas, which benefited from hydraulic fracturing and the shale drilling revolution, tripled its production of oil in the last five years. The Texan economy saw hundreds of billions of dollars come into the state before the global plunge in prices. Across the state drilling budgets are being slashed and companies are notifying workers of upcoming layoffs. According to federal labor statistics, around 300,000 people work in the Texas oil and gas industry, 50 percent more than four years ago. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Oil traded near a five-week high after the International Energy Agency and OPEC boosted their forecasts for crude demand.

Futures were steady in New York after rising 3.8 percent in the previous three sessions. Global demand will climb this year by the most since 2015, the IEA said Wednesday. OPEC on Tuesday raised estimates for the amount of crude it will need to supply in 2018 on stronger consumption from Europe and China. U.S. oil output gained last week as operations returned after Hurricane Harvey.

Oil in New York has fallen about 8 percent this year as the effort to drain a global glut by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and partners including Russia is stifled by increasing output from the U.S. to Libya. OPEC and its allies are discussing extending supply cuts past the end of March by more than three months, according to people familiar with the matter.

The IEA report “was taken as confirmation of the prevalent supply-tightening narrative, that that oil surplus is slowly disappearing,” said Norbert Ruecker, head of commodity research at Julius Baer Group Ltd. Still, crude is “trading at the upper end of a fundamentally justified price range” and the “upcoming seasonal demand soft patch is set to create near-term headwinds.”

West Texas Intermediate for October delivery was unchanged on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 9:58 a.m. in London. Total volume traded was about 27 percent below the 100-day average. Prices rose $1.07 to $49.30 on Wednesday, the highest close since Aug. 9.

See also: Harvey and Irma’s Impact on U.S. Supplies Shown Through Charts

Brent for November settlement slid 7 cents to $55.09 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. On Wednesday, prices added 89 cents, or 1.6 percent, to settle at $55.16, the highest since April 17. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.37 to November WTI.

The IEA increased its estimate for demand growth in 2017 by 100,000 barrels a day to 1.6 million a day, or 1.7 percent, according to its monthly report. The re-balancing of oversupplied world markets is continuing, the agency said.

Oil-market news:

  • Saudi Arabia is preparing contingency plans for a possible delay to the initial public offering of its state-owned oil company by a few months into 2019, according to people familiar with the matter.
  • U.S. crude output rose by 572,000 barrels a day to 9.35 million a day, while stockpiles expanded for a second week, according to an Energy Information Administration report Wednesday.
  • China’s crude production fell 3.1 percent year-on-year in August to the lowest since March 2009, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
  • Nigeria is unwilling to cap its oil production until at least the second quarter of next year, and then only if it’s managed to keep output consistently near its target for six months, according to the nation’s petroleum minister.
  • OPEC data from so-called secondary sources shows compliance with the cuts rose to 96 percent in August, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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