From the Field
Oil prices gain despite weak China and US data
LONDON, February 15, 2019 – Oil prices rose on Friday in Asia after briefly falling on a weak US retail sales data report.
U.S. retail sales tumbled 1.2% in December, the first time in 10 months, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday. Economists had forecasted a gain of 0.1% for the period.
Meanwhile, China’s January Consumer Price Index came in at 1.7% and was below the market estimate of 1.9%. The Producer Price Index was also disappointing at 0.1%, compared to an estimated 0.3%.
US stocks closed lower overnight and Asian equities also headed lower on Friday following the release of the reports. Impact of such data on oil prices seem to be limited, as prices quickly recovered and are currently trading in the green.
US Crude Oil WTI Futures was up 0.4% at 54.62 by 1:01 AM ET (06:01 GMT), while the international Brent Oil Futures gained 0.5% to 64.85.
Analysts at TD Securities believe while CPI and PPI data were both below expectations, traders’ focus might have shifted towards the prospect of more stimulative monetary policies from Chinese authorities, which would in turn help supporting economic growth.
In other news, reports of an oil production cut by Russia and Saudi Arabia were also cited as tailwind for oil prices.
Optimism over US-China trade talks also helped gains in the two prior sessions, although headlines that came out today seemed to suggest a trade deal before the March 1 deadline is still some way off.
Bloomberg reported today that China and US have so far made very little progress towards an agreement, as they struggled to narrow the gap on issues related to structural reforms to China’s economy.