Oil prices pulled back Friday as traders paused what has shaped up as the longest bull run in about a year for the international benchmark and an even bigger feat for the U.S. market, after prices scored six-month highs earlier this week.
“Clearly, prices had been technically ‘overbought’ and a correction of some sort was imminent. It remains to be seen how far oil prices will fall given the still supportive market conditions, with the OPEC+ group of producers continuing to restrict supply and the U.S. government tightening sanctions against Iran,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at Forex.com. “
On top of this, you have ongoing production outages from Venezuela and yesterday an important pipeline in Russia had to be suspended due to contamination,” he said. “Thus, if oil prices were to weaken further, this would either have to be due to renewed fears over demand, perhaps from emerging markets given the U.S. dollar rally, or concerns about rising supply in the U.S.”
U.S.-based West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery
fell $1.17, or 1.8%, to $64.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. WTI on Tuesday scratched $66.30, the highest settlement for a front-month contract since Oct. 29, FactSet data show, before the market turned south for consecutive sessions.
At current intraday prices, WTI is looking at a weekly finish just in the red, though slight improvement on the day could change that. The contract has already logged seven straight weekly gains; an eighth straight gain would mark the longest run since the first half of 2015.
June Brent crude
the global benchmark, fell $1.46, or 2%, at $72.89 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Before Thursday’s drop, front-month contract prices for the global benchmark climbed in each of the previous four sessions and settled Wednesday at the highest since late October. Brent crude, up 1.3% for the week, is headed for a fifth weekly gain in a row, the best run in the past year.
Crude’s multiday rise had come on the heels the U.S. decision to end waivers for countries importing Iranian oil, as part of a bid by the Trump administration to push Iran’s exports to zero. The current waivers expire on May 2. Chatter has included speculation that tighter sanctions against Iran and separately, Venezuela, could trigger an end to the production-cut agreement among members and select nonmembers of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. That deal, in which OPEC and its allies agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day, expires in June.
Brent prices on Thursday initially got a lift from news that Poland and Germany suspended imports of Russian crude via the Druzhba pipeline, the world’s longest oil pipeline, citing contamination, according to a report from Reuters. About 700,000 barrels a day of the pipeline’s 1 million-barrel a day capacity was suspended, the report said, citing trading sources and Reuters’ calculations. S&P Global Platts said Thursday that a Russian official was reported as saying he expects the issue of contaminated crude through the pipeline to be resolved by Monday.
WTI oil futures on Wednesday had declined on the back of a hefty gain in weekly U.S. crude stockpiles, Brent oil futures managed to finish a few cents higher in that session. The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that U.S. crude supplies rose by 5.5 million barrels for the week ended April 19. Analysts polled by S&P Global Platts had expected a decline.
On Nymex, May gasoline
rose 1.3% to $2.1042 a gallon and May heating oil
fell 2% at $2.06 a gallon.
May natural gas
traded at $2.504 per million British thermal units, down 0.4%.
The EIA on Thursday that domestic supplies of natural gas rose by 92 billion cubic feet for the week ended April 19. Analysts polled by S&P Global Platts had expected an increase of 90 billion cubic feet for the latest week.
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