Oil Slips as Investors Weigh Near Term Demand

Oil Slips as Investors Weigh Near Term Demand
Oil dropped toward $59 a barrel as investors assessed the near-term demand outlook amid a Covid-19 flare-up in some regions.

(Bloomberg) -- Oil dropped toward $59 a barrel as investors assessed the near-term demand outlook amid a Covid-19 flare-up in some regions, while a rising dollar reduced the appeal of commodities priced in the currency.

Futures in New York lost 0.5% on Monday after falling 3.5% last week. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the U.S. economy was poised for stronger growth, but he cautioned that the virus still remains a threat. That’s been highlighted in other regions including parts of Europe, while a second wave in India is overwhelming the health system.

Indian gasoline consumption, meanwhile, rose in March to the highest level in four months as millions of people favored cars over public transport to avoid being infected by the coronavirus. Overall oil-product demand fell, however.

Oil’s robust start to the year faltered in mid-March as a resurgence of Covid-19 and renewed restrictions in some regions raised concerns about the outlook for near-term fuel demand. The market is also facing rising supply after the OPEC+ alliance agreed to add more barrels from May, although Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the decision to boost output was the right move.

Iran is also a wildcard for the market. Talks between the OPEC producer and world powers on resuscitating a 2015 nuclear accord are set to continue this week after an initial round of discussions, described by a senior U.S. official as a good first step but still short of what’s necessary for a revival of the deal.

“While rising virus cases will have an impact, the vaccination drive is progressing really well,” said Howie Lee, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore. “I think markets will overlook the short-term weakness and focus on the longer-term. Demand will go up for sure.”

Prices

  • West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery fell 27 cents to $59.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 7:26 a.m. London time after slipping 0.5% on Friday.
  • Brent for June settlement slid 0.5% to $62.63 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange after falling 0.4% in the previous session.
  • The Bloomberg Spot Dollar Index rose for a second session.

The prompt timespread for Brent was 43 cents a barrel in backwardation -- a bullish market structure where near-dated contracts are more expensive than later-dated ones -- compared with 32 cents a week earlier.

Fed officials have repeatedly stressed that the U.S. economy continues to need aggressive monetary policy support as it recovers from the pandemic, even as the outlook brightens amid widening vaccinations. In the U.K., some scientists are saying the country could achieve so-called herd immunity as soon as Monday, moving on from the worst of the outbreak.

Other oil-market news:

  • Saudi Arabia will supply all the crude that was requested by India’s state-owned refiners and at least four other Asian customers next month as the producer starts to ramp up output.
  • An Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund may join a group investing in Saudi Aramco’s oil pipelines, in a deal set to be backed by a loan of around $10.5 billion.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.



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