March 22, 2018

Oil hits highest in nearly two weeks on Asian equity recovery

21 February 2018, 06:33 | Lionel James

Crude oil extends gains in nearly two weeks on Asian equity recovery

OPEC's widened tent would still be built on desert sand

Oil prices traded mixed on Tuesday, as last week's gains bolstered the USA crude, while Brent prices declined through lower Asian stocks and a stronger dollar, although markets still remained supported by the supply curb.

The "market rebalancing has gained massive momentum" as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners work to trim output, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said Monday in Nigeria. Oil imports are set to continue to grow at a strong pace and increasingly influence global oil flows and oil markets.

Flows on Keystone pipeline were decreased after a leak in November. A weaker greenback boosts the appeal of commodities priced in the USA currency.

A more robust dollar makes oil and other dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Brent for April settlement dropped 44 cents to $65.23 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange as of 11:57 a.m. local time.

US West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery was up 46 cents at US$62.14 a barrel, after earlier gaining as much as 1.4 per cent to its highest since February 7. Prices rallied to a high of $62.74 a barrel early in the session, the highest since February 7.

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Gold shed 0.3 percent to 1,342.07, while gold futures for the April contract fell by 0.8 percent to $1,344.60.

"A combination of stock market rally, dollar weakness and OPEC/non-OPEC rhetoric helped oil prices recover part of the ground they had lost in the preceding two weeks", according to Tamas Varga, an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates Ltd.

However, since the data was compiled, Brent crude has risen almost 5%, and Tuesday's drop looked more technical rather than based on supply and demand fundamentals.

Pointing a finger at a familiar and convenient scapegoat, he said, "OPEC needs to just focus on itself and focus on what it needs to do and forget what is happening in [U.S.] shale". Premiums for local North Sea grades are at multi-month lows.

Bloomberg speculated that "Choosing a different measure of success could further reinforce the need for supply curbs to continue for the whole of 2018 - something Saudi Arabia is keen to ensure as it prepares the historic initial public offering of its state oil company". "The commitment by OPEC, as well as the supply situation with strong demand, will keep the market well-supported".

Barkindo said compliance past year stood at 107 percent and that OPEC and non-OPEC producers would hold a technical meeting in June.

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