Oil prices rise on Asian stock rally, OPEC-led cuts

SingaporeUpdated: Dec 12, 2018, 11:42 AM IST

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US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.22 per barrel, up 57 cents, or 1.1 per cent.

Oil prices climbed by around 1 per cent on Wednesday amid a stock market rebound and on expectations that an OPEC-led output cut for 2019 would stabilise the supply-demand balance.

Disruptions to Libyan crude exports after local militia seized the country's biggest oilfield, El Sharara, were also buoying prices, traders said.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $60.86 per barrel at 0543 GMT, up 66 cents, or 1.1 per cent, from their last close.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.22 per barrel, up 57 cents, or 1.1 per cent.

The higher prices came amid an increase in Asian share markets on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that talks with China were taking place to defuse the trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies.

Despite Tuesday's more confident market, analysts warned of an economic slowdown.

"The global economy is set to cool in 2019-20, as rising interest rates and inflation begin to limit consumption in major developed economies, and market uncertainty weakens the fundamentals in emerging markets," the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said in its latest outlook.

British bank Barclays said in its 2019 commodities outlook that "the major risk to the near-term outlook relates to a faster-than-expected deterioration in economic activity".

In oil market fundamentals, a decision by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-OPEC producers including Russia last week to cut supply by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) has supported prices this week.

"OPEC production curbs will stabilise the market," ANZ bank said on Wednesday.

Crude prices had lost a third of their value between early October and the announcement of the cuts. Some analysts warn, though, that the agreement may not have the effect hoped for.

Fereidun Fesharaki of energy consultancy FGE said in a note that the OPEC-led cuts would likely be "insufficient to mop up the inventories in the targeted three-month period till the end of the first quarter of 2019".

As a result, FGE said prices were "likely to hover in the $55-$60 per barrel range for Brent, with WTI sitting some $5-$10 per barrel below this given current fundamentals".

Undermining the supply cuts is soaring output in the United States, where crude production has hit a record 11.7 million bpd.

The United States is set to end 2018 as the world's top oil producer, ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia, with the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) saying on Tuesday the nation's annualised average output would be 10.88 million bpd for the full year.

The 2018 output increase would be 1.53 million bpd, the EIA said, adding that it expected production to average an unprecedented 12.06 million bpd in 2019.