Crude Achieves Third Straight Weekly Gain Amid Signs of Healthy Demand

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Friday December 20, 2019

With crude trading on Friday said to be motivated by the simple technicality of a reluctance to carry positions into the Christmas holidays, oil prices declined but still logged a third straight weekly gain - thanks to the growing optimism about healthier demand in the wake of the U.S./China trade deal.

Brent settled at $66.14 per barrel, down 40 cents, but enough to achieve a weekly rise of around 1.4 percent; West Texas Intermediate settled at $60.44 per barrel, also falling 40 cents but still good enough for a 0.6 percent gain on the week.

John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital, noted that trading focus "Continues to be the developments around the U.S.-China trade situation, with a sufficient amount of positive spin all week."

Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group Inc., added, "We've had a pretty good run the last couple of days, and I think the bulls are nervous about carrying positions into the holiday."

Also said to have supported crude was the advancement of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is set to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

But while signs such as U.S. economic growth nudging up in the third quarter suggest that analytical predictions about decreased crude demand may have been overstated, Carsten Menke, analyst at Julius Baer, insisted that crude prices have overall been treading water, and that "Looking forward into 2020, commodities as an asset class should continue to trade range-bound for most of the year."

Still, even though a rally hasn't occurred, optimism over the U.S.-China trade truce and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) cuts helped push futures to a three-month high: data released Friday show that hedge funds boosted bets on rising U.S. crude prices to the highest level in more than seven months, helping support oil's first full week above $60 per barrel since May.

Andrew Lebow, senior partner at Commodity Research Group, remarked, "I expect to see more length in the market as a function of what looks to be the successful negotiation of Phase 1 of the U.S.-China trade pact, as well as the OPEC meeting with their pledge to reduce output."