Ashton Whiteley - OPEC Cuts Support Oil Amid Global Economic Uncertainty

Anna Jefferson
January 22, 2019

Stock markets are still up so far this month, which has given oil investors more confidence to bet aggressively on a rise in crude prices.

"The impact of higher oil prices in 2018 is fading, which will help offset lower economic growth", the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly report. News about China's stimulus measures might ease some of the concerns.

OPEC cut oil output sharply in December before a new accord to limit supply took effect, it said on Thursday, suggesting that producers have made a strong start to averting a glut in 2019 as a slowing economy curbs demand.

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Futures were on track for a third straight week of gains, with Brent crude up $1.41 to $62.59 a barrel, or 2.3 percent, at 1:19 p.m. EST (1819) GMT.

The IEA said data show that Russian Federation increased crude oil production in December "to a new record near 11.5 mbd (million barrels per day) and it is unclear when it will cut and by how much".

It recommended investors should "stay long" crude oil. Economists are expecting a draw of -1.4 million barrels in crude oil inventories which is sort of bullish. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices were $8/b lower than Brent prices in December 2018, and EIA expects this difference to narrow to $4/b in the fourth quarter of 2019 and throughout 2020. "Confidence is weakening in several major economies", said the report.

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Norbert Ruecker, Head of Commodity Research at Swiss bank Julius Baer, said "the United States is moving forward towards energy independence and is set to become a net petroleum exporter next year thanks to the rising shale output".

"By the middle of the year, US crude output will probably be more than the capacity of either Saudi Arabia or Russia", the Paris-based agency said in a report on Friday.

Continuously rising USA shale production will make the United States a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products in the fourth quarter of 2020, the EIA said in its January Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), which offered a first glimpse into the administration's forecasts for 2020. Distillate fuel production decreased for the same period, averaging 5.4 million barrels per day.

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"By the middle of the year, US crude output will probably be more than the capacity of either Saudi Arabia or Russia", CNBC cited the statement as saying. China saw its exports fall unexpectedly in December by 4.4 percent, the most in two years, with imports also falling 7.6 percent in their biggest decline since July 2016.

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