Oil rebounds from two-month lows, outlook seen volatile
SINGAPORE – Oil prices rebounded on Friday, bouncing off two-month lows hit in the previous session when prices fell 5 percent on news that the U.S. weekly crude draw missed some forecasts.
Traders said that the outlook looked volatile as a refined product glut and slowing economic growth weighed on markets while the risk of supply disruptions could tighten supplies.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 were trading at $46.75 per barrel at 0649 GMT on Friday, up 35 cents, or 0.8 percent, from their last settlement. U.S. crude CLc1 was up 29 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $45.43 a barrel.
The bounce came after a 5 percent fall in prices the previous sessions, to two-month lows, after the U.S. government reported a weekly draw in crude oil inventories that was lower than many analysts had expected.
U.S. commercial crude stocks fell by 2.22 million barrels to 524.35 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). This was a lower withdrawal rate than many traders had expected, resulting in a late Thursday sell-off as traders feared the oil glut would remain bigger than anticipated.
Yet on Friday traders said that the price fall in response to the inventory reduction had been an overreaction as crude stocks had now fallen for almost two months straight, and U.S. production is also down again.
U.S. crude oil production has fallen by 12.3 percent since their 2015 peaks and by 8.74 percent since January this year to 8.43 million barrels per day, the lowest since June 2014, when the 2014-2016 oil price rout began.
"U.S. shale oil continues to hurt, as many banks are exiting the segment in general," fuel hedging firm Global Risk Management said in its second-half 2016 oil market outlook.
Traders said, however, that the outlook would likely be choppy as the threat of supply reductions could tighten markets.
"The increased unrest and attacks on pipelines among others in Nigeria and Iraq affect the countries' oil output," Global Risk Management said.
However, an ongoing glut in refined products, especially in Asia and North America, as well as slowing economic growth weighed on oil.
"Refining margins were down sharply in all regions over the last week and gasoline cracks went into free fall," U.S. investment bank Jefferies said on Friday.
Asian benchmark Singapore gasoline margins GL92-SIN-CRK have slumped more than 86 percent this year to just $2.28 barrels, the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2013.
"When product margins fall so will crude," said Matt Stanley of brokerage Freight Investor Services (FIS) in Dubai. –Reuters
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