Oil prices drop on concern over US economy

Fears about slowdown in economic growth are keeping prices in check

Reuters August 29, 2019
Fears about slowdown in economic growth are keeping prices in check. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO: Oil prices fell on Thursday for the first time in three days after San Francisco Federal Reserve President Mary Daly sounded a note of concern about the strength of US economy.

Brent crude was down $0.31, or 0.5%, at $60.18 a barrel by 0638 GMT while US crude was down $0.18, or 0.3%, at $55.60 a barrel.

Oil prices rose around 1.5% in the previous session.

Concerns about a slowdown in economic growth due to the trade war raging between the United States and China, along with the potential hit to oil demand, are keeping prices in check.

Daly said on Thursday she believes the US economy has “strong” momentum, but uncertainty and a global growth slowdown are having an impact.

She was speaking to reporters after a speech in Wellington, New Zealand and said she was in “watch and see” mode in assessing the need for another US interest rate cut.

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he believed China was sincere about wanting to reach a trade deal, but concerns arose on Tuesday after China’s foreign ministry declined to confirm a telephone call between the two countries on trade.

“Trade tensions (are) hanging like a dark cloud threatening to rain over oil prices,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda.

The market shrugged off a big drop in US inventories, which fell last week by 10 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 2.1 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said.

US gasoline stocks fell by 2.1 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 388,000-barrel drop.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.1 million barrels, versus expectations for a 918,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.

The crude drawdown confirms “that OPEC supply cuts are effectively working by depleting US reserves,” said Stephen Innes, Managing Partner at Valour Markets.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other producers have been restraining supply for most of the period since January 1, 2019. The alliance, known as “OPEC+”, in July renewed the pact until March 2020.

US weekly crude production also rose 200,000 barrels per day to a new record at 12.5 million bpd in the week to August 23.

Morgan Stanley has lowered its oil price forecasts for the rest of the year citing a weaker economic outlook, faltering demand and higher shale output that could offset OPEC’s efforts to support the market.


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