Fear Dominates Crude Trading Yet Again Despite Good Economic News

Friday July 5, 2019

It was a case of same old same old on Friday for the crude market, with fears playing against each other and keeping prices more or less range bound - and chances of any meaningful rally seeming more and more remote. 

Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, summarized the prevailing mindset by stating, "The complex is maintaining a heavy feel that was set into motion earlier this week by mounting expectations of a global economic slowdown that will be impacting oil demand."

Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group, suggested that even though every bit of bad economic news is matched by good news on a daily basis, traders remain mired in gloom: "We've got mixed data weak manufacturing data from around the globe, but then we have a strong job numbers in the U.S."

He was referring to the U.S. Labor Department reporting that non-farm employers added 224,000 jobs last month, the most in five months, which should have eased fears about weakening global demand for crude.

Oil rose on Friday on the strength of Iran threatening to capture a British ship after British forces seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar over accusations the ship was violating EU sanctions on Syria.

However, the gains that this caused were said to be mitigated by a Reuters survey showing that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) oil output dropped to a new five-year low in June, as a rise in supply from Saudi Arabia did not offset losses in Iran and Venezuela due to U.S. sanctions against those countries.

As a result, Brent on Friday settled up 93 cents at $64.23 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate  settled up 17 cents at $57.51 per barrel.

For the record, the Saudis - which have repeatedly chastised crude analysts for focusing too much attention on the often erratic behaviour of crude traders - pumped 9.78 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, up from 9.67 million bpd in May; this is below its target of 10.3 million bpd under the OPEC-led global oil reduction pact.

Finally, crude trading news wouldn't be complete without an expert predicting the ultimate decline of oil demand, and on Friday Mark Gainsborough, executive vice president of Shell New Energies, fulfilled that sentiment by telling CNBC television that says hydrogen fuel cells for heavy duty transportation are likely to "have a bigger role in the energy system" of the future and that its rise to prominence will occur in the next 10 years.