Crude Oil Price Forecast: China Key to Direction Amid Record US Exports
WTI Crude Oil, Inventory, Russia, US Exports, China - Talking Points
- WTI and Brent crude oil prices are moderating after an early-week decline
- Oil’s supply and demand fundamentals are rapidly shifting on world stage
- China lockdowns likely key to the drop in prices amid economic uncertainty
Crude oil prices are moderating in both the WTI and Brent benchmarks after dropping sharply earlier this week. The calm is somewhat surprising at face value after the United States reported its biggest inventory draw since early 2021. The Energy Information Administration (EIA), on Wednesday, reported an 8-million-barrel reduction in crude oil stocks for the week ending April 15.
The EIA data also revealed another high-profile headline: US oil and petroleum exports hit the highest level on record last week. The US is likely filling a gap in Russian oil exports that typically supply European and Asian countries. That would explain the surge in US exports as oil is pulled away from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Gulf Coast ports. Typically, such behavior in the market would elicit a move higher in prices. That this has not happened in earnest so far is all the more surprising after news that Germany will aim to end Russian oil imports by the end of this year.
However, the lockdowns across China, estimated by various sources to be afflicting around 80 to 100 cities, may be counteracting the reduced supply from Russia and in effect balancing the market’s supply and demand drivers. However, that leaves upside risks for prices once China moves past its “Zero-Covid” strategy. The timing for such a move is hard to predict at the current moment, in that it is mostly a function of political will in Beijing as well as the path of the viral spread. A recent downgrade of the IMF global growth outlook may also be tempering sentiment around global demand. Altogether, oil prices may drag lower until the current cloud of economic uncertainty lifts.
--- Written by Thomas Westwater, Analyst for DailyFX.com
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