Crude Down For The Week as Traders Favour Bad News Over Good

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Friday October 18, 2019

Worries about China - this time in the form of its economic growth slowing to 6 percent year-on-year  in the third quarter - took precedence over bullish refinery signals on Friday, causing Brent crude to settle down 49 cents to $59.42 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate to settle down 15 cents to $53.78 per barrel.

Friday's performance contributed to Brent falling 1.8 percent for the week, while WTI lost 1.7 percent.

However, as usual with news headlines of late, reports of China's economic growth - its weakest in over 27 years - was coupled by the disclosure that its September refinery throughout rose 9.4 percent year on year, a signal that its petroleum demand remained robust.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are working to ratify the first phase of the much-anticipated trade deal for their presidents to sign next month, according to Steven Mnuchin, U.S. treasury secretary.

Depending on one's viewpoint, there was also good news from the U.S. on Friday in the form of energy firms this week increasing the number of oil rigs operating for a second week in a row for the first time since June, bringing the total count to 713, according to Baker Hughes.

Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, viewed the crude trading market as one in which diverse factors are keeping prices fairly steady, if uninspiring: "For now, trade related concerns over a slowed global economic growth path have been pushed to the sidelines as markets await additional guidance regarding U.S.-Chinese trade negotiations."

However, most analysts were inclined to focus on the negative: "The reality is that crude markets are still struggling with prospect of substantial surplus in next year, which is expected but is very much in line with what growth data is highlighting," said Daniel Ghali, commodity strategist at TD Bank.

He added, "There's starting to be a worry out there on how much OPEC can do to offset it," referring to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' on-going initiative to curb oil output.

John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital, was in a similar dour mood: "The demand outlook is a question mark since the overnight data out of China wasn't great.

"The slowness in GDP didn't help things and the market is still battling that."