Oil prices up slightly as traders await delayed US crude inventory data

oil prices
Oil prices rose on Wednesday slightly as analysts await data reports from the API and EIA. ConocoPhillips photo.

Oil prices rose on Wednesday slightly as analysts await data reports from the API and EIA. ConocoPhillips photo.

Oil prices up more than 50 per cent since June 2017

On Wednesday, oil prices rose slightly as traders wait for weekly data reporting US crude inventory which had been delayed due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

By 12:26 p.m. EST, Brent crude was up 14 cents to $69.29/barrel.  The benchmark crude price reached $70.37 on Monday, its highest level since December, 2014.  US WTI rose 23 cents to $63.96/barrel.

The Canadian Crude Index rose by 14 cents to $41.17.

“Movements in oil prices have been muted in today’s session as market participants look ahead to the upcoming oil inventory report from the United States,” Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy’s Global Gas Analytics told Reuters.

According to a poll by Reuters, analysts expect US crude inventories to fall for a ninth straight week.  They also anticipate a decline in distillate stockpiles.

The American Petroleum Institute will release its data on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. EST and the US Energy Information Administration will report its data on Thursday at 11 a.m.  Both reports are delayed by one day due to the MLK holiday.

Strong demand as well as production cuts by OPEC and some non-cartel members have helped tighten the crude market, lifting futures benchmarks about 13 per cent since early December.

Overall, oil prices have risen over 50 per cent since June 2017.

In Nigeria on Wednesday, threats by militants to attack offshore oil facilities supported oil prices, but rising US production may impact oil markets.

The EIA reported on Tuesday that it expects oil crude production to increase next month.  In particular, output from shale producers is expected to rise 111,000 barrels per day (b/d) to 6.55 million b/d.

According to the EIA, US crude production is expected to top 10 million b/d soon.

As well, “hedge fund expectations for further rising prices have reached excessive levels,” and are threatening prices, according to Norbert Ruecker, head of commodity research at Swiss bank Julius Baer.  Ruecker spoke with Reuters.

Hedge funds and money managers have raised bullish positions in WTI and Brent crude futures and options to a record high, according to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Intercontinental Exchange.






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