Picture: 123RF/EVGENI BASHTA
Picture: 123RF/EVGENI BASHTA

London/Tokyo — Oil prices rose on Thursday, recouping some of the previous session’s losses after oil cartel Opec forecast a supply deficit in 2020 and the US Federal Reserve said the economic outlook is favourable.

Prices had fallen on Wednesday after a report showed an unexpected increase in US crude inventories. The market picked up on Thursday, although the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Opec offered different prospects for the oil market in 2020.

Brent rose 41c, or 0.6%, to $64.13 a barrel by 10.05am GMT. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 22c, or 0.4%, at $58.98 a barrel.

The IEA said on Thursday that global oil inventories could rise sharply, despite an agreement by Opec and its allies to deepen output cuts and expectations for lower production by the US and other non-Opec countries. The market, however, focused more on Opec, which said it now expects a small deficit in the oil market in 2020, suggesting the market is tighter than previously thought.

Opec and other producers including Russia(Opec+) agreed last week to rein in output by an extra 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the first quarter of 2020.

Oil prices were also supported by the US Federal Reserve keeping interest rates unchanged at a meeting on Wednesday.

“Our economic outlook remains a favourable one, despite global developments and ongoing risks,” Fed chair Jerome Powell told a news conference.

“While oil prices are trending higher, benefiting from a dovish Fed [and] a weaker dollar, the IEA reiterates that, despite the deeper oil production cuts, the oil market is likely to be oversupplied in the first half of 2020,” said UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

Referring to Opec members Iraq and Nigeria and their weak compliance with the pact in the past, Staunovo said, “We remain sceptical that [Iraq and Nigeria] will achieve their 100% pledge in the first quarter of 2020 ... [This] could see oil prices coming under pressure again in the future.”

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after the US department of energy’s report showed an unexpected rise in US stocks. Inventories of petroleum products also increased with petrol stocks surging by more than 5-million barrels and distillates gaining just more than 4-million barrels.

Analysts blamed much of the dip in petrol demand on winter storms that brought heavy snow to several US states, making many roads unfit for driving.

The outlook for oil demand continued to be clouded by US-China trade tensions and uncertainty over whether a fresh round of US tariffs on Chinese goods would come into effect on December 15.

China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday that Beijing and Washington are in close communication on trade, declining to comment on possible retaliatory steps if US President Donald Trump does impose the threatened tariffs on Chinese goods.

AFP