Oil retreats on stronger dollar, US crude discount wider
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices retreated after the dollar rose on better-than-expected US employment data, which pressured greenback-denominated commodities, including crude.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures fell $1.23 a barrel to settle at $65.81 a barrel. For the week, WTI was on track to drop about 3 percent, adding to last week’s near 5 percent decline.
Global benchmark Brent LCOc1 fell 77 cents to $76.79 a barrel. It was set for a 0.4 percent gain for the week.
WTI’s discount to Brent WTCLc1-LCOc1 widened, settling at $11.02 a barrel after ballooning to as much $11.57 during the session, largest since 2015.
Domestic job growth accelerated in May and the unemployment rate dropped to an 18-year low of 3.8 percent. The US Labor Department’s report also showed solid wage gains, which boosted expectations that the Federal Reserve would hike interest rates in June and later this year as well.
The strengthening dollar .DXY sparked selling in dollar-denominated commodities, said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management.
Concerns about growing US crude production and a glut trapped inland due to a lack of pipeline capacity have pressured prices of WTI, doubling its discount to Brent over the course of a month.
US crude production rose in March by to 10.47 million barrels per day (bpd), a monthly record, the Energy Information Administration said.
On a weekly basis, it rose to 10.8 million bpd last week, close to top producer Russia, the EIA said.
“The weekly number suggests US production is really strong and continuing to rip higher,” said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData. But without adequate transportation to get crude to the coasts, “we’re going to continue to see some weakness in WTI,” he said.
US drillers added two oil rigs in the week to June 1, bringing the total to 861, the most since March 2015, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said .lThat was the eighth time drillers added rigs in the past nine weeks.
Hedge funds and other money managers cut their bullish wagers on US crude futures and options in the week to May 29, as prices dropped by about 7 percent, according to data released by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The speculator group cut its combined futures and options position in New York and London by 50,937 contracts to 370,980 during the week.
Speculators in Brent crude LCOc1 cut their net long positions in the week by 49,638 contracts to 451,966.
Saudi Arabia, effective leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and Russia have discussed boosting output to compensate for supply losses from Venezuela and to address concerns about the impact of US sanctions on Iranian output. Any rise in production would be gradual, a Gulf source said.
Russia could raise oil output within months if there is a decision to unwind the agreement, a Russian Energy Ministry official said.