From the Field
Oil prices slip on EIA report but rebound
LONDON, February 22, 2019 – Oil prices slipped on Friday in Asia amid new production data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) but rebounded.
US commercial crude oil inventories rose by 3.7 million barrels to 454.5 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 15, the EIA said, versus an increase of 3.6 million barrels in the previous week.
Meanwhile, US refineries ran at just 85.9% of capacity last week, the EIA added, as aggressive export cuts by Saudi Arabia continued to squeeze the supply of the heavier oils required for producing transportation fuels.
Despite the report Brent Oil Futures were near 2019 highs at $67.23 at 4:30 AM ET (09:30 GMT). Crude Oil WTI Futures also traded higher at $57.14.
In other news, the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade discussions in Washington also remained in focus. Citing sources, Bloomberg said on Friday that China is considering buying an additional $30 billion a year of U.S. products including soybeans, corn and wheat as part of the agreement that is currently being discussed by the U.S. and Chinese officials.
US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said it was “premature” to comment on what or how much China might buy as part of a trade deal. “I don’t want to raise expectations,” he told reporters on Thursday. “If we reach an agreement on structural reforms we can recover markets very, very quickly.”
The Bloomberg report came after Reuters said on Thursday that the two sides have begun outlining a deal over trade. Reuters said the move was the most significant step yet towards resolving the seven-months long trade spat between China and the U.S.
The trade war was cited as a major headwind for oil prices since it began in 2018, as it clouded the outlook for crude demand from the two countries, the world’s top crude consumers.