Oil prices : 2024 rise on Chinese trade data, fall in US stockpiles

Oil prices rise on Chinese trade data, fall in US stockpiles


Oil prices rose Thursday, as a rise in Chinese imports added to a draw in U.S. crude stockpiles, suggesting improving demand in the world’s two largest economies.

AT 08:45 ET (12:45 GMT), Brent oil futures rose 0.7% to $84.13 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 0.8% to $79.60 a barrel.


China trade data, U.S. stockpiles boosts sentiment

The crude markets received a boost early Thursday after government data showed that China’s trade balance grew less than expected in April, with imports blowing past expectations.

Stronger imports signaled improving domestic demand and Chinese economic resilience, increasing hopes that the world’s largest importer of crude was recovering economic strength.

China’s oil imports came in at 44.7 million tons in April. While this was lower than the 49.1 million tons seen in March, it still represented a 5.45% increase from the relatively low 10.4 million barrels per day imported in April 2023.

Travel is also expected to have picked up in May with the labor day holiday, while Chinese refiners are also likely to increase output in the coming summer months.

This followed on from Energy Information Administration data showing an unexpected a draw in U.S. crude inventories, suggesting improved demand in the world’s biggest oil user.

U.S. crude inventories fell last week by 1.4 million barrels to 459.5 million, as refinery activity increased by 307,000 barrels per day in the period.

Middle East talks in focus

A potential ceasefire between Israel and Hamas remained in focus, especially as the U.S. picked up its efforts to broker an agreement. The Biden Administration paused weapon shipments to Israel over its invasion of Rafah.

That said, the militant group Hamas said it was unwilling to make more concessions to Israel in negotiations over a ceasefire for Gaza, although talks were still under way in Cairo.

Prices more likely to dip below $80 than rise above $90 – Macquarie 

Analysts at Macquarie said they expected Brent to break below $80 in the coming months, citing “bearish fundamentals” and increasing expectations of an Israel-Hamas ceasefire.

Increased production outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) is also expected to factor into less tighter supplies, while sticky inflation and high for longer interest rates are likely to weigh on demand.

Still, any potential interest rate cuts could help buoy demand later this year. Macquarie analysts also said that any extension of ongoing production cuts by the OPEC+ will offer relief to oil prices.

And Goldman Sachs said Thursday they no longer expect OPEC+ to partially reverse recent voluntary production cuts in June.

Instead, the Wall Street giant now predicts that Saudi Arabia’s crude oil supply will remain steady at 9 million barrels per day in July, compared to their earlier estimate of 9.2 million barrels per day.

Goldman cited three main reasons behind the shift in their expectations.

First, recent inventory data has exceeded expectations.

Second, recent compliance data on production cuts indicates that extending Saudi Arabia’s 1 million barrel per day reduction, as part of the broader 2.2 million barrel per day cut, would enhance the country’s short-term oil profits.

Finally, elevated interest rates have heightened the importance of these short-term profits to fund Saudi Arabia’s ambitious investment plans.

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