Crude Gains For Fourth Consecutive Week While Russia Contemplates End of OPEC Cutbacks

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Friday December 27, 2019

For once, the now-common discrepancy between analytical predictions regarding U.S. crude inventory levels and what the levels prove to be worked in the commodity's favour on Friday when much higher than expected draws caused oil prices to hit a three month high - and rise to the fourth consecutive weekly gain.

According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. crude stocks fell by 5.5 million barrels in the week to December 20 to 441.4 million barrels, compared to analysts' expectations of a 1.7 million barrel drop.

Adding to Friday's aura of optimism was the S&P 500 index .SPX close to logging its best year since 1997; also lifting U.S. stocks was a survey showing that online holiday purchases by U.S. consumers reached a record.

Josh Graves, senior market strategist at RJO Futures, said, "Inventories are bullish almost across the board, [and] it's a Santa Claus rally: people tend to buy more things that will indirectly drive the price of oil up."

Brent on Friday rose 24 cents to settle at $68.16 per barrel, the highest since mid-September; West Texas Intermediate rose 4 cents to settle at $61.72 per barrel, another three-month high.

Presumably appreciating developments that suggest the crude market's immediate future isn't as dire as the experts have made out to be, Alexander Novak, energy minister for Russia, stated on Friday that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies may consider endingĀ  their oil output reduction in 2020.

He told Russian media, "As far as the production cuts are concerned, I repeat once again, this is not an indefinite process: a decision on the exit should be gradually taken in order to keep up market share and so that our companies would be able to provide and implement their future projects.

"I think that we will consider that this year."

Novak went on to suggest that global oil markets are currently more or less stable and that demand may rise in the summer when more fuel is required by motorists.

However, Robert Yawger, futures director at Mizuho Securities, warned not to be overly optimistic about market conditions going into the New Year.

He remarked, "Oil will likely correlate to equities" through the remainder of the year and even see multi-month highs, "but the situation is not sustainable for much longer: the market is overbought."