Oil falls 1% on weaker oil demand growth, surprise gain in U.S. crude stocks

Pumpjack is seen at the Sinopec-operated Shengli oil field in Dongying, Shandong
FILE PHOTO: A pumpjack is seen at the Sinopec-operated Shengli oil field in Dongying, Shandong province, China January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Chen Aizhu

June 12, 2019

By Jane Chung

SEOUL (Reuters) – Oil prices fell more than 1% on Wednesday, weighed down by a weaker oil demand outlook and a rise in U.S. crude inventories despite growing expectations of ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were down 87 cents, or 1.4%, at $61.42 a barrel by 0231 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 85 cents, or 1.6%, at $52.41 per barrel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) cut its forecasts for 2019 world oil demand growth and U.S. crude oil production in a monthly report released on Tuesday.

The EIA lowered its 2019 world oil demand growth forecast by 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.22 million bpd and wound back its forecast for 2019 U.S. crude production to 12.32 million bpd, 140,000 bpd less than the May forecast.

A surprise increase in U.S. crude stockpiles also kept oil prices under pressure.

“Investors have been concerned about the recent rise in stockpiles in the U.S.,” ANZ bank said in a note.

U.S. crude inventories rose by 4.9 million barrels in the week ended June 7 to 482.8 million barrels, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday. That compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 481,000 barrels. [API/S]

Official data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday.

Alongside concerns about rising supply, ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest oil consumers, weighed on prices. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was holding up a trade deal with China.

“Oil prices have struggled to retain bullish gains as traders stay cautious over heightened geopolitical risks and persistent weakness in the global economic backdrop,” said Benjamin Lu, commodities analyst at Phillips Future in Singapore.

With the next meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) set for the end of June, the market is eyeing whether the world’s major oil producers would prolong their supply cuts.

OPEC, along with non-members including Russia in a group called OPEC+, have limited their oil output by 1.2 million bpd since the start of the year to prop up prices.

The Energy Minister for the United Arab Emirates Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui said on Tuesday that OPEC members were close to reaching an agreement on continuing production cuts.

OPEC is set to meet on June 25, followed by talks with its allies led by Russia on June 26. But Russia suggested a date change to July 3 to 4, sources within the group previously told Reuters.

(Reporting By Jane Chung; editing by Richard Pullin and Christian Schmollinger)

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