Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

Iran's Unrest Pushes Oil to Highest Level in 2.5 Years

Oil Prices Hit Highest Level in Three Years on Iran Tensions Iran's Unrest Pushes Oil to Highest Level in 2.5 Years
Russell Knight | 13 January, 2018, 00:51

Lukman Otunuga, analyst at futures brokerage FXTM, struck a similarly cautious tone, saying: "While the current momentum suggests that further upside is on the cards, it must be kept in mind that USA shale remains a threat to higher oil prices".

"While the current momentum suggests that further upside is on the cards, it must be kept in mind that USA shale remains a threat to higher oil prices".

Deadly protests in Iran, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are bolstering oil prices to start 2018.

But that would nearly certainly leave stockpiles uncomfortably low, send benchmark Brent prices well above $70 per barrel and push the market into a big backwardation. Iran is OPEC's third largest crude producer.

Analysts said speculators widened their positions on the back of a firm trend overseas ahead of the inventory data and as ongoing anti-government protests in Iran raised the prospect of supply disruptions.

The expected rise in stocks during the first half is one reason why OPEC and its allies think market rebalancing will not be completed until later in the year and agreed to keep their output unchanged.

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"Geopolitical risks are clearly back on the crude oil agenda after having been absent nearly entirely since the oil market ran into a surplus in the second half of 2014", Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB, said, also citing Kurdistan and Libya.

Traders had been buying crude amid supply outages and renewed production cuts led by Opec, the producers' cartel, and Russian Federation. Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, were also flat at around $66.80 a barrel after hitting a May 2015 high of $67.29 earlier in the day.

While part of that resurgent growth has undoubtedly been down to lower prices the pick-up in the global economy is also a major factor, with most forecasters believing the world is now enjoying the strongest period of expansion since the financial crisis. Analysts and traders surveyed by The Wall Street Journal on average expect that stockpiles declined by 4.7 million barrels in the week ended December 29.

Yet, surging US production could offset some of the cuts from OPEC producers, as USA production rose to 9.78 million barrels a day in the latest week, according to Wednesday's report. However, with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, the American oil industry has seen a boost, with the new head of state vowing to cut regulations.

The Opec adherence to the global oil output cut increased by 3% in December 2017 to reach 128%, according to a Reuters survey. Profit-taking and technically overbought conditions may be behind the early weakness.

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