Reuters: Oil slips on economic slowdown, but OPEC-led cuts still support

09:00, 18 March 2019
Economy
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REUTERS

Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at $67.03 per barrel at 0231 GMT, down 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close, but not far off the $68.14 per barrel 2019-high reached last week, Reuters said.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures CLc1 were at $58.32 per barrel, down 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement, and also not far off their 2019-high of $58.95 from the previous week.

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"The greatest downside risk to our oil price view is demand weakness on slower economic growth. Our base case is that global oil demand will increase by 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019... A synchronized global slowdown in growth could push global demand growth to below 1 million bpd," Bernstein Energy said on Monday.

U.S. manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February, in a sign that the world's biggest economy has been slowing down in the first quarter.

In Asia, Japan's exports fell for a third straight month in February in a sign of growing strain from slowing global demand.

Despite this, oil prices have gained around a quarter since the start of the year amid U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, and as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-affiliated allies like Russia – known as OPEC+ – have pledged to withhold 1.2 million bpd in supply to prop up prices.

OPEC's de-facto leader Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that balancing oil markets was far from done as inventories were still high.

Russia also said production cuts would stay in place at least until June.

As a result, Bernstein forecast an inventory draw of 37 million barrels in the first quarter for the 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which comprises most industrialized nations.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday it expected oil markets to be in a modest deficit from the second quarter of 2019.

Key for the supply and demand balance will be the United States, where crude production has soared by around 2 million bpd over the past year, thanks largely to an onshore boom in shale formation drilling.

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