Oil prices slipped yesterday as a result of China’s weakening economy and record U.S. crude output, although markets remained relatively well supported by supply cuts led by producer club OPEC.
International Brent crude futures were at $66.23 per barrel, down 16 cents, or 0.2 percent from their last close, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $56.90 per barrel, down 4 cents from their last settlement.
Prices were dragged down by surging American crude oil production, which has risen by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) over the last year, to an unprecedented 12.1 million bpd. Traders said China’s weakening economy also weighed on oil prices.
Factory activity in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, shrank for the third straight month in February. China’s official manufacturing gauge fell to a three-year low, highlighting deepening cracks in an economy facing persistently weak demand at home and abroad.
Still, oil markets remain relatively well supported by supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which together with some non-affiliated producers like Russia, known as ‘OPEC+’, agreed late last year to reduce output by 1.2 million bpd to prop up prices.
Because of these cuts, U.S. commercial crude inventories fell 8.6 million barrels in the week to February 22 to 445.87 million barrels. “Crude imports into the U.S. fell 1.6 million bpd last week, to a two-decade low,” ANZ bank said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, secretary-general, OPEC, Mohammad Barkindo, said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump was welcome to join a dialogue on balancing supply and demand in the global oil market.
The United States, as the world’s biggest oil producer, has a strategic stake in supply and demand globally, Barkindo said when asked about Trump’s Monday tweet telling OPEC that oil prices were becoming too high and to “relax and take it easy.” Barkindo was speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of an oil conference in Riyadh.
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