Oil stages small recovery as weak economic outlook linger


Oil prices reclaimed some ground on Thursday after tumbling to a six-month low the previous day, but investors remained concerned about sluggish demand in the United States and China.

Brent crude futures were up 60 cents, or 0.8%, at $74.90 a barrel by 1455 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 56 cents, or 0.8%, to $69.94.

“With the largest global importer of oil (China) shuttering its thirst for crude, pressure remains on prices as the largest producer, the United States, continues with headline output,” said PVM Oil analyst John Evans.

In the previous session the market was spooked by data showing U.S. output remains near record highs even though inventories fell, ANZ analysts said in a note.

U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 5.4 million barrels last week to 223.6 million barrels, Energy Information Administration data showed on Wednesday, far exceeding expectations for a 1 million barrel build.

Concerns about China’s economy also put a lid on oil’s price gains.
Chinese customs data showed that crude oil imports in November fell 9% from a year earlier as high inventory levels, weak economic indicators and slowing orders from independent refiners weakened demand. While China’s total imports dropped on a monthly basis, exports grew for the first time in six months in November, suggesting the manufacturing sector may be beginning to benefit from an uptick in global trade flows.

Ratings agency Moody’s put Hong Kong, Macau and many of China’s state-owned companies and banks on downgrade warnings on Wednesday, only a day after it put a downgrade warning on China’s sovereign credit rating.

Oil prices have fallen by about 10% since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, known collectively as OPEC+, announced a combined 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in voluntary output cuts for the first quarter of next year.

Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s two biggest oil exporters, on Thursday called for all OPEC+ members to join an agreement on output cuts for the good of the global economy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met to discuss further oil price cooperation on Wednesday.

OPEC+ member Algeria on Wednesday said it would not rule out extending or deepening oil supply cuts.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak on Tuesday said the producer group stood ready to strengthen oil supply cuts in the first quarter of 2024 to eliminate what he described as speculation and volatility.

Russia has pledged to disclose more data on the volume of its fuel refining and exports after OPEC+ asked Moscow for more transparency on classified fuel shipments from the many export points across the country, sources at OPEC+ and ship-tracking companies told Reuters.

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