Oil turns lower as weaker demand outlook weighs
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Brent crude futures gave back early gains and turned lower after the International Energy Agency (IEA) deemed supply adequate and the outlook for demand weakening, while US crude steadied as equities rebounded.
The energy watchdog said in its monthly report that the market looked “adequately supplied for now” and trimmed its forecasts for world oil demand growth this year and next.
“This is due to a weaker economic outlook, trade concerns, higher oil prices and a revision to Chinese data,” said the IEA, which advises industrialized countries on energy policy.
Brent crude LCOc1 fell 25 cents a barrel to $80.01 by 2:16 p.m. EDT (1816 GMT), after dropping 3.4 percent on Thursday. US crude futures CLc1 rose 6 cents to $71.03 a barrel.
“The weaker outlook has gotten a raised profile in the market, but there’s potential for a real supply crunch towards the end of this year,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York. “The demand outlook is hurt right now because of the situation with the US and China in particular.”
Both benchmarks were headed for their first weekly drop in five weeks, pressured by a big rise in US inventories and fading concerns about shrinking global supplies due to looming US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.
The IEA report is the latest official forecaster to predict weaker demand ahead and conclude that supply is adequate. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) made a similar move on Thursday.
“The bearish alarm bells are ringing for next year’s oil balance as market players brace for the return of a supply surplus,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
Additionally, the US oil drilling rig count rose this week for the first time in four weeks, an indication that production is rising.
Drillers added eight oil rigs in the week to Oct. 12, bringing the total count to 869, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report.The increase is the biggest weekly gain since mid-August.
Early in the session, crude rose as global equities were set for their biggest daily gain in nearly a month. Declining equities amid wider risk-off investor sentiment had pressured oil on Thursday.
A drop in US oil production this week supported prices. In the US Gulf of Mexico, companies cut output by 40 percent on Thursday because of Hurricane Michael, even as some began returning crews to offshore platforms.
Michael made landfall in Florida on Wednesday as the third most powerful hurricane to strike the US mainland.