Brent oil hits US$60 per barrel

NEW YORK, 28 Oct 2017: 

Oil prices jumped about 2% yesterday – with global benchmark Brent crude rising above US$60 per barrel – on support among the world’s top producers for extending a deal to rein in output and as the US dollar retreated from three-month peaks.

Saudi Arabia and Russia declared their support for extending an OPEC-led deal to cut supplies for another nine months, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ secretary general said ahead of the group’s next policy meeting on Nov 30. The pact currently runs to March 2018.

Brent futures LCOc1 rose US$1.14 or 1.9% to settle at US$60.44 a barrel after hitting a session peak of US$60.53 – the highest since July 2015 and more than 35% above 2017 lows touched in June.

US West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI) ended the session up US$1.26 or 2.4% at US$53.90 after reaching a session peak of US$53.98 a barrel, the highest since early March.

For the week, Brent was 4.6% higher, notching its third straight weekly gain. US crude rose 4.7% for the week. US crude’s gains have lagged the global benchmark amid rising domestic output.

Oil prices have been hovering near their highest levels for this year amid signs of a tightening market, renewed support this week of an extension of production cuts and tensions in Iraq.

However, the announcement yesterday of a ceasefire between Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga from the country’s autonomous northern Kurdish region eased some concerns.

“What is interesting is that the pop in WTI futures moved above the Sept 28 high,” said David Thompson, executive vice president at Powerhouse, an energy-specialised commodities broker in Washington.

“So even though the (US) dollar is giving back some of its move, crude may now be trading off of a new driver, the technical breakthrough to a new high.”

The dollar trimmed its earlier gains versus a basket of currencies following a Bloomberg report that US president Donald Trump is leaning toward Federal Reserve governor Jerome Powell as his pick to head the US central bank.

A weaker dollar makes greenback-denominated commodities, including oil, cheaper for holders of other currencies.

“I think the combination of short-covering and Chevron and Exxon both missing their production guidance for the third quarter has resulted in the market strength today,” said Scott Shelton, energy futures broker with ICAP in Durham, North Carolina.

TransCanada Corp said in a filing on Thursday that it is seeking to raise the temporary discounted spot rate for light crude on its 700,000 barrel-per-day Marketlink pipeline. That sent WTI’s discount to global marker Brent to the widest in a month.

OPEC and other major producers including Russia have pledged to reduce production by around 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to drain a global supply glut.

“If OPEC and their non-OPEC partners can agree to extend their production curtailments through 2018, then we estimate the oil market will remain in modest under-supply until 2019,” US investment bank Jefferies said.

Rising US crude production remains an issue for OPEC as it strives to clear a global supply overhang.

Government data showed that US crude production rose 1.1 million bpd last week to 9.5 million bpd after a decline due to Hurricane Nate, while US oil exports hit a new record four-week average of 1.7 million bpd.

US drillers added one oil rig in the week to Oct 27, but the rig count, an indicator of future production, fell by 13 for the month, the biggest such decline since May 2016, data showed.

Hedge funds and other money managers raised their bullish wagers on US crude futures and options in the week to Oct 24, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission said yesterday.

“Momentum may take us a little further here but longer term, I would expect a supply response here domestically,” said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at US Bank Wealth Management.

“It’s a market we feel is rangebound (for US crude) in the mid-US$40s to mid-US$50s.”

– Reuters

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