Oil holds above $46 amid robust economic growth in China

By Grant Smith on 7/17/2017

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Oil steadied above $46/bbl in New York after China’s economic growth in the second quarter slightly surpassed expectations, while OPEC’s commitment to supply curbs faltered.

Futures were little changed in New York, after rising 5.2% last week. The world’s second-largest economy expanded by 6.9% from a year earlier, compared with the 6.8% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. OPEC’s implementation of output cuts dropped to 92% in June from 110% in May, according to a person familiar with the matter.

While oil advanced last week, prices in New York are still below $50/bbl on concerns expanded global supplies will offset output curbs by OPEC and its allies. The group’s output climbed last month to the highest this year as members exempt from the deal -- Nigeria and Libya -- pumped more and others slipped in delivering their pledged curbs.

“Macro data in China point to renewed growth momentum in June, following a somewhat sluggish April and May,” said Jan Edelmann, an analyst at HSH Nordbank AG in Frankfurt.

American Drilling

WTI for August delivery was little changed at $46.56/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Total volume traded was about 26% above the 100-day average. Prices gained $2.31 to $46.54/bbl last week.

Brent for September settlement added $0.6 to $48.96/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices climbed 4.7% last week. Brent traded at a premium of $2.21 to September WTI.

OPEC’s “ secondary sources” data, revised to include all figures from all parties, showed the 11 members bound by the Nov. 30 output agreement pumped 29.89 MMbpd in June compared with 29.69 MMbpd in May, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The number of active oil rigs in the U.S. rose to 765, according to Baker Hughes data reported Friday. It’s the second week of renewed growth after drillers snapped a 23-week stretch of advances at the end of June. Shale explorers have been the driving force behind a surge in U.S. production, more than doubling the rig count from a low of 316 in May 2016.

Oil Market News

China is on pace to produce the least amount of oil this year since 2009 as a bear market weighs on domestic drilling. Money managers increased their combined bullish Brent and WTI oil bets to a four-week high, CFTC and ICE data show. U.S. imports of Saudi Arabian crude -- usually medium or heavy grades -- “slowed substantially” over the past five months as the Middle East nation reduced output of those varieties compared with lighter oil, analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.

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