Oil set for longest losing run since 2015 amid economy fears

By Tsuyoshi Inajima and Grant Smith on 8/17/2018

TOKYO and LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Oil headed for the longest run of weekly declines in three years as turbulence in emerging markets and the ongoing trade conflict between the U.S. and China stirred fears that fuel demand may suffer.

Futures have lost almost 3% in New York this week, their seventh straight decline. Turmoil in Turkey this month reverberated across financial markets in developing economies, while the outlook for a Chinese-American trade standoff remains uncertain. Oil supplies have also appeared more plentiful as U.S. crude inventories expanded by the most since 2017, OPEC raised output in July and Libya recovered some halted output.

Oil has retreated about 13% from the three-year high reached at the end of June as concerns about the global economy grow just as OPEC and its allies revive production.

“Bullish catalysts are in short supply, whereas newfound economic headwinds have given oil bears ample ammunition to keep prices on the back foot,” said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates in London.

West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery traded at $65.64/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $0.18 in London. Total volume traded was about 45% below the 100-day average. Prices are down about 12% over the last seven weeks and are headed for the longest stretch of weekly losses since August 2015.

Brent for October was at $71.78/bbl on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, up $0.35. Prices have fallen about 2% this week. The global benchmark crude traded at a $6.72 premium to WTI for the same month.

Stoking Concerns

“If the Turkish crisis worsens further, it will stoke concerns over the negative impact on the global economy, which already faces a U.S.-China trade war,” Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst at Rakuten Securities Inc. in Tokyo, said by phone. “Prices will also be negatively impacted if U.S. crude inventories continue to rise in the coming weeks as stockpiles tend to drop in August.”

The U.S. escalated a diplomatic row over the release of an American pastor, tipping Turkey’s economy deeper into crisis and raising fears that the tumult will spread to other economies.

Broader risk assets also took a beating this week, with Asian equities to emerging market currencies and commodities sliding lower after the Turkish lira’s plunge sent shockwaves through markets.

President Donald Trump’s trade spat with China, which has been weighing on the market for the past few months, continued to leave investors skittish. While the standoff could ease after they showed willingness to resume negotiations, an earlier breakdown in talks left investors skeptical about the outcome.

Oil Market News

OPEC oil shipments will decrease by 170,000 bpd in the four weeks to Sept. 1 versus the period to Aug. 4, tanker-tracker Oil Movements said in a weekly report. U.S. crude stockpiles rose by 6.81 MMbbl last week, government data showed on Aug. 15, despite expectations for a decline, while inventories at the key storage hub of Cushing in Oklahoma expanded for the first time since May.

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