Oil Prices Bounce, But Escalating Supply Worries Cap Gains

Aug 02, 2018

Oil prices rebounded on Thursday, breaking a two-day losing streak, although concerns of escalating supply continued to cap gains.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 72 cents, or 1.06% to $68.38 a barrel by 11:06 AM ET (15:06 GMT).

Meanwhile, Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., traded up 34 cents, or 0.47%, to $72.73.

U.S. crude declined 7.4% in July and, despite Thursday’s bounce, was still on track for a weekly drop of 0.6% as worries over increasing production led to profit-taking. Despite the recent decline, WTI oil is still up 15.4% year to date and has jumped 35.6% since one year ago.

This week reports on Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump offered to meet with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani at "any time," raised questions about whether the U.S. was softening its position on Iran.

That scaled back investor expectations for a massive loss of Iranian crude from the market.

Also putting downward pressure on oil this week, a Reuters survey showed that OPEC hiked production by 70,000 barrels per day to 32.64 million bpd, a 2018 high. Further supply increases could offset production outages and pressure prices, it added.

On June 22-23, OPEC, Russia and other non-members agreed to return to 100% compliance with oil output cuts that began in January 2017, after months of underproduction elsewhere had pushed adherence above 160%.

Even though output continued to decline in Iran, Libya and Venezuela, the survey suggested that compliance had only fallen to 111% in July, suggesting more room for increasing production from the likes of Saudi Arabia or OPEC’s non-member ally Russia.

In other energy trading, gasoline futures slipped 0.10% $2.0435 a gallon by 11:07 AM ET (15:07 GMT), while Heating Oil advanced 0.55% to $2.1090 a gallon.

Lastly, natural gas futures gained 2.10% to $2.816 per million British thermal units, after natural gas stockpiles rose less than forecast.