Miscalculated Drawdown Prediction Causes Crude Price Decline

Wednesday April 17, 2019

A crude price rally that many analysts predicted to occur on Wednesday proved to be a bust, with a far less than expected U.S. inventory drawdown causing Brent to settle down 10 cents to $71.62 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate to settle down 29 cents to $63.76 per barrel.

Although the trading was fairly flat and inconsequential, Wednesday's market performance demonstrated yet again how easily expectations can be dashed when they are pinned on something as unpredictable - and ephemeral - as drawdown data; in this case, official data from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed a 1.4 million-barrel crude drawdown, about half the amount predicted on Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute.

Fortunately, crude's price decline was minimized by more substantial data, including reports that  China's economy grew by 6.4 percent in the first quarter (and thus defying widespread fears of slowdown); the market also drew strength from the notion that a U.S./China trade deal may be forthcoming.

Moving forward, it is said traders may be heavily influenced by persistent signals from Russia that it might resist any extension of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) crude cutback deal, which some believe is overly contributing to a global supply tightening.

Were that scenario to take place, the likely result would be a drop in crude prices, which would be beneficial to many emerging nations as well as American motorists but disastrous to Middle Eastern countries whose economic health revolve around oil.

However, Alexander Novak, energy minister for the former Soviet Union, attempted on Wednesday to prevent the rumour mill from running rampant by stating it was too early to speak about preferable options, and that "We should do what is more expedient for us."

For the record, OPEC's de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, wants an extension of the OPEC cutbacks, and therefore in the likelihood this occurs prices could continue to escalate.

As if to remind interested parties of the bigger picture, CNBC pointed out that oil prices have risen for sixth consecutive weeks (which has happened only five times since 2010), notching an 11 percent gain for crude, and that "While a pullback could occur....recent history suggests there are more gains to come, not just in oil but also in stocks."

The news agency added that WTI has traded higher more than 80 percent of the time and tacked on an additional average gain of more than 2.5 percent.