Fear and Loathing Continues to Keep Crude Prices in a "Goldilocks Moment"

Tuesday July 9, 2019

Tuesday's crude trading was yet another predictable non-event, with prices rising modestly on the strength of geopolitical fears, and capped by U.S./China trade worries.

Motivating traders specifically was the Energy Information Administration's monthly report released Tuesday, which cut its 2019 world oil demand growth forecast by 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.07 million bpd, due to "increasing uncertainty" and "increasingly weak global economic signals."

Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, helped along the general feeling of malaise by remarking that "It's because of trade wars and tariffs: there has been no progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute, [and] the EIA sees these things and revises downward their forecast accordingly."

The outcome of this was that Brent on Tuesday settled up 5 cents to $64.16 and West Texas Intermediate crude settled up 17 cents to $57.83 per barrel.

Still, some analysts pointed out there was plenty of cause for regarding crude's performance as positive: Brent has risen almost 20 percent in 2019, supported by the output cuts of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and tensions in the Middle East.

Also, despite the panic in some quarters about oversupply, Russia is the latest country to post declining output numbers: Russian production reportedly fell close to a three-year low in early July, to 10.79 million bpd, dragged down by declining output at Rosneft.

Gene McGillian, vice president of market research at Tradition Energy, noted, "Tightened supplies have provided an undercurrent of support; the market is showing signs of stabilizing."

In a similarly upbeat vein, Amy Harder, energy reporter at Axios, said, "We really are in this Goldilocks moment of oil prices, and therefore gasoline prices, here in America, and Iran is just one part of the two big pressure points that are countervailing each other.

"A decade ago, or even a few years ago, oil prices would probably be a lot higher, but because of this slowing economic growth and, of course, the boom in American oil production over the last decade, we're seeing prices more tempered despite the fact that there's all this unrest and uncertainty going on."