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Wed 6 May 2020 08:07 AM

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Oil rally runs out of steam after prices doubled over five days

OPEC+ began implementing 9.7 million barrels per day of production curbs on May 1, which along with some early signs of demand recovery has helped to ease fears the world will run out of storage space for crude and fuels

Oil rally runs out of steam after prices doubled over five days

The rally has also been supported by a deal agreed between top producers to reduce output by almost 10 million barrels a day, which came into effect on May 1.

Oil’s rally ran out of steam - after prices doubled over five days - as optimism that output cuts are easing the supply glut was balanced by trepidation over what promises to be a long and uncertain recovery.

Futures in New York fell toward $24 a barrel after swinging between gains and losses in Asian trading. Diamondback Energy Inc. and Parsley Energy Inc. became the latest U.S. drillers to cut production in the country’s biggest shale fields, but said they would consider restoring output if prices rose above $30.

OPEC+ began implementing 9.7 million barrels per day of production curbs on May 1, which along with some early signs of demand recovery has helped to ease fears the world will run out of storage space for crude and fuels. The supply glut has probably hit its apex, according to Morgan Stanley, though the market will likely remain oversupplied for several weeks.

While it’s possible the worst is over for oil markets, most analysts don’t see a rebound to pre-virus levels of consumption for at least a year, with some questioning if it will ever happen. The risk of a second wave of infections in the U.S. as states reopen can’t be discounted, while deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing may hamper the global recovery.

“A large part of the strength that we have seen over the past week has been driven by early signs of a demand recovery,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING Bank NV in Singapore. “However, clearly we will need to see a substantial improvement in demand, along with supply cuts, in order to see the market continuing to trend higher.”

West Texas Intermediate for June delivery declined 0.9% to $24.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 7:25 a.m. in London after closing at the highest level in almost a month on Tuesday. WTI for June is now around $2 cheaper than for July, compared with more than $5 early last week, suggesting concerns about over-supply have eased.

Brent for July settlement fell 0.3% to $30.87 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. It jumped 14% in the previous session to finish above $30 a barrel for the first time in three weeks. Dated Brent, a reference for two-thirds of the world’s oil flows, was at $23.835 on Tuesday, according to traders monitoring prices from S&P Global Platts.

Hedge fund Westbeck Capital Management, which posted its best ever month in April after being short oil prices in the front of the curve, said the bull case for crude is now “simply exceptional.” April demand losses were overestimated and shut-ins are happening faster than anticipated, the fund said.

U.S. crude stockpiles rose by 8.44 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute reported, according to people familiar with the data. That would be the smallest increase since the week through March 20 if confirmed by Energy Information Administration figures due Wednesday. Supplies at the storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, rose by 2.68 million barrels, the API said.

Crude’s price path “will be determined by the rate oil demand increases from its low in the second quarter, assuming this was the bottom,” said Victor Shum, vice president of energy consulting at IHS Markit. There’s a high level of uncertainty over the virus’s impact on the global economy, he said.

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