Crude Oil Up Two-plus Percent
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil rose by nearly 3 percent Thursday while the Brent contract price edged upward by more than 2 percent.
The January WTI futures price gained $1.43 Thursday, settling at $52.58 a barrel. The WTI traded within a range from $50.35 to $52.75.
Brent crude oil for February delivery rose $1.30 to end the day at $61.45 a barrel.
“OPEC surprised a lot of people last week by getting an agreement with Russia to cut a total of 1.2 million barrels per day (MMbpd) of oil from the market,” said Robert Rapier, chief energy analyst with Investing Daily, told Rigzone. “Leading up to the meeting, there was some speculation that there would be no agreement, and oil prices trended down as a result.”
The market witnessed “strong upward movement” in oil prices the last time OPEC struck such an agreement, Rapier pointed out.
“I expect as the market digests the supply/demand picture, we will see WTI recover back above the $60 per barrel level I the coming months,” said Rapier. “As it stands, the agreement looks to have arrested the fall in the price of oil.”
To be sure, Rapier observed that another draw on U.S. crude inventories was reported this week. Crude stocks are 14 percent lower than they were a year ago, he said.
“Despite this, U.S. crude oil prices are more than 10 percent lower than they were a year ago,” Rapier noted. “Overall demand in the U.S. is pretty flat year-over-year, but total exports have surged by over 2 MMbpd.”
Tracking crude oil, reformulated gasoline (RBOB) also posted a gain Thursday. January RBOB settled at $1.48 a gallon, reflecting a six-cent increase for the day.
The January Henry Hub natural gas futures price fell by a penny to end the day at $4.12.
“Natural gas storage levels continue to be bullish for gas prices,” said Rapier. “Storage is well below the five-year average for this time of year, and (inventories) are 20 percent lower than they were a year ago. We are one severe winter away from seeing gas prices spike much higher.”
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