Oil prices stabilize in Asian trading; stock indexes slide

Posted May 06, 2017

Senior OPEC and non-OPEC officials have dropped strong hints that current production cuts will be extended for a further six months, but oil traders seem increasingly sceptical about the effectiveness of prolonging the curbs until the end of 2017.

"The hopes of US stock re-balancing are being thrown into doubt", said Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd.in London. "The whole commodity complex has been affected by this and it could have some pretty big implications if it continues for much longer", said Saxo bank's head of FX strategy John Hardy. Refinery utilization rates fell by 0.8 percentage points.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.14 percent at 112.62 per dollar, while Sterling GBP= was last trading at $1.2965, up 0.35 percent on the day. The euro slipped to $1.0975 from $1.0984. The UAE, also under pressure from fellow OPEC members to come into compliance with its quota, lowered production slightly to 2.84 million barrels per day, down 10,000 barrels per day from March, the survey found. World shares are up for a third week and hit a record high on Wednesday. "I do think as long as OPEC maintains the cuts, the price will get some stability", Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob said. Economists forecast that job-creating bounced back last month after a disappointing March, in the latest sign of US economic strength supporting the Fed's plans for more interest rate increases this year.

Another driver for the weakness in the oil markets has been a disappointing appetite for gasoline in the U.S.

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Brent futures gained 72 cents, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $49.10 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 70 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $46.22 per barrel. Both had been nudged lower by the commodity market worries. European stock markets are set to follow in Asia's wake with key indices likely to open between 0.2 to 0.4 percent lower. Economists on average expect 185,000 jobs were created in April.

China markets have also been wobbling in recent weeks but the commodity market woes have been the central focus.

Brent traded volumes on Thursday reached an all-time high of almost 542,000 contracts suggesting hedge funds had accelerated cuts in their long positions.

Oil prices have risen but stockpiles are still high and production from countries that have not agreed to the cut, including the United States, has been rising, keeping crude below the $60 level that OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and others would like to see. "They either put up a defence here or risk further emboldening the bears for a run at the $40 threshold (for WTI)".