Optimism reigns in oil market as focus turns to stockpile drop

By Ben Sharples on 1/25/2018

HONG KONG (Bloomberg) -- Oil surged to the highest level in more than three years as investors cheered a record run of declines in American crude stockpiles, showing resolve in the face of surging U.S. shale output.

Futures added as much as 1.1% in New York after climbing 1.8% on Wednesday.  A weaker U.S. dollar helped to underpin oil’s gain. Supplies slid to the lowest level since February 2015 and edged toward the five-year average, according to Energy Information Administration data. American producers are pumping crude at the highest rate in more than three decades.

Oil is extending a two-year gain as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners cut supply to reduce a global inventory overhang. The market may re-balance by April, according to Vagit Alekperov, CEO of Lukoil PJSC, Russia’s second-biggest producer.

“There is a broad level of positivity in the market,” said Daniel Hynes, a Sydney-based analyst at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “With inventories falling quickly the buffer in the market is clearly diminishing. The impact is going to be much greater when we see supply issues.”

West Texas Intermediate for March delivery traded at $66.19/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 7:45 a.m. in London after climbing as much as 74 cents to $66.35, the highest intraday price since December 2014. Total volume traded was more than double the 100-day average. WTI advanced $1.14 to $65.61 on Wednesday.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a gauge of the currency against 10 major peers, slipped to the lowest in three years. A weaker greenback boosts investor appetite for raw materials priced in the U.S. dollar. The Bloomberg Commodity Index that measures returns on 22 basic resources from crude to copper rose to the highest intraday level since October 2015.

Brent for March settlement increased as much as 52 cents, or 0.7%, to $71.05/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the highest intraday price since December 2014. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $4.70 to WTI.

U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 1.07 MMbbl last week to 411.6 million, less than the 2-MMbbl drop forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Oil output rose by 128,000 bpd to 9.88 MMbpd, the highest level in weekly data compiled by the EIA since 1983.

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