16 Jan 2020

Oil gains on U.S.-China deal, but IEA forecast pressures prices

LONDON/TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil rose on Thursday as the long-awaited Phase 1 trade deal between the United States and China brought some relief to markets, but the gains were capped after the International 7Energy Agency said it expected oil production to outpace demand.

FILE PHOTO: The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Brent LCOc1 was up 50 cents, or 0.8%, to $64.50 a barrel by 1449 GMT, and West Texas Intermediate CLc1 rose by 38 cents, or 0.7%, to $58.19 a barrel.

Under the Phase 1 trade deal, China committed to buy over $50 billion more of U.S. oil, liquefied natural gas and other energy products over two years.

Trade sources and analysts said China could struggle to meet the target, and gains in oil are likely to be limited until more detail was available on how the commitments will be met.

“The interim deal has done the trick for the time being, but we can be sure that as talks about Phase 2 get underway we shall see more twist and turns,” said oil broker PVM’s Tamas Varga.

“To borrow the words from Ferdinand Foch, the Supreme Allied Commander during World War 1: ‘This is not peace. It is an armistice for a few months’.”

Oil prices are returning to range trading, analysts said, as the threat of conflict between Iran and the U.S. recedes after they traded missile and drone attacks earlier this month.

In a reassuring note to the market, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said surging oil production from non-OPEC countries along with abundant global stockpiles will help the market weather political shocks such as the U.S.-Iran confrontation.

The IEA also said it expected production to outstrip demand for crude from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), even if members comply fully with a pact with Russia and other non-OPEC allies to curb output.

(Graphic: OPEC and non-OPEC oil supply – here)

UBS said in a note “provided Middle East tensions do not intensify and cause production disruptions, Brent should decline toward the bottom of a $60–65 per barrel trading range in 1H20 before recovering to the top of it in the second half of the year”.

Also supporting prices was U.S. official data that showed a much bigger-than-expected drop in crude oil inventories.

Inventories fell by 2.5 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations for a drop of 500,000 barrels, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and by Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Kirsten Donovan, Larry King

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