Oil prices rise 3%, recovering from yesterday’s sharp sell-off

Oil Prices

From Stephanie Kelly: NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices rose about 3 percent on Wednesday, recovering somewhat from a sharp sell-off during the previous session, after U.S. data showed strong demand for refined products.

Sentiment remains negative, however, as investors grapple with weakening demand and worries about oversupply.

Brent crude futures rose $1.61 to $57.87 a barrel, a 2.9 percent gain, by 11:03 a.m. EST (1603 GMT). The front-month U.S. light crude contract, which expires on Wednesday, rose $1.56 to $47.80 a barrel, a 3.4 percent gain. The second-month contract rose $1.53 a barrel.

Crude inventories fell by 497,000 barrels in the week to Dec. 14, smaller than the decrease of 2.4 million barrels analysts had expected. The decline was the third consecutive decrease, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 4.2 million barrels, versus expectations for a 573,000-barrel increase, the EIA said. Distillate demand rose to the highest since January 2003, which bolstered buying, particularly in heating oil futures, the market’s proxy for diesel.

Heating oil futures gained 3.3 percent to $1.8106 a gallon.

“The complex is piecing together a modest advance so far today but only one that offsets a miniscule portion of recent losses,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.

The markets slumped on Tuesday, extending a recent run of poor performance. Global benchmark Brent tumbled 5.6 percent on Tuesday, just above a 14-month low reached during the session, while WTI lost 7.3 percent, its lowest since August 2017.

Broader financial markets have been under pressure on worries that higher U.S. interest rates could slow domestic growth.

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday. The central bank is due to announce its decision at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT). [nL1N1YN1E4]

Both Brent and WTI have fallen more than 30 percent since the beginning of October as crude supply has increased.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producers including Russia agreed this month to curb output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in an attempt to drain tanks and boost prices.

But the cuts will not happen until next month and production has been at or near record highs in the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Russian oil output has been running at a record 11.42 million bpd so far this month, an industry source told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, said on Wednesday he expected global oil stocks to fall by the end of the first quarter.

The United States Oil Fund LP (USO) was trading at $10.13 per share on Wednesday afternoon, up $0.34 (+3.47%). Year-to-date, USO has declined -15.65%, versus a -2.89% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

USO currently has an ETF Daily News SMART Grade of A (Strong Buy), and is ranked #1 of 108 ETFs in the Commodity ETFs category.

This article is brought to you courtesy of Reuters.