Oil gains for second week on signs of ongoing summer travel rush
(Bloomberg) – Oil and gasoline futures both posted their second consecutive weekly gain as expectations for a recovery in demand from the northern hemisphere summer begin to rise shape.
Futures contracts in New York rose nearly 5% this week, the biggest such increase since mid-April. A series of data this week has so far confirmed the market bet that higher vaccination rates and continued reopening efforts are unleashing pent-up demand this summer.
On the supply side, oil is supported by deferred expectations of a renewed nuclear deal with Iran and OPEC + ‘s cautious approach to bring back production. Meanwhile, the global benchmark Brent ended the week above the psychological mark of $ 70 a barrel for the first time in more than two years, approaching a technical level that could stimulate further flows. on the market.
“The national situation remains good and OPEC + does not appear to be aggressively increasing supply,” said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at US Bank Wealth Management. The market was hoping for a return to “a more normal travel season, and that’s the data we’re seeing in the US and Europe.”
Without an immediate resumption of the Iranian nuclear deal that threatens the market, traders see prices soar as the summer demand story unfolds. U.S. government data this week confirmed that the world’s largest oil-consuming country is in the midst of a pickup in demand with the start of the summer travel season, while other countries are also showing evidence. vigor.
A gas mileage gauge rose for a third consecutive week to the highest since March 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration’s latest weekly storage report. In the UK, government data showed road fuel sales jumped last week to near pre-pandemic levels.
“It looks like the economy is back, certainly in the United States, and vaccines are starting to spread, making people want oil long before the weekend,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research. Once more countries start to bring the spread of Covid-19 under control, “economies will start to thrive with pent-up consumer demand.”
While the rebound remains uneven in parts of Asia, the strong recovery emerging in the west is boosting calls for OPEC + to ensure the market does not overheat. The OPEC + alliance, which this week agreed to increase production in July, may have to continue adding barrels to the market in August or September to cope with the recovery, according to Gazprom Neft PJSC chief executive Alexander. Dyukov.
Helping keep oil prices afloat this year has sparked renewed interest in commodity index investors looking for ways to hedge inflation in their portfolios, wrote Ryan Fitzmaurice, materials strategist. raw. The investment dollars of this category of investors tend to be much “stickier” than other groups of traders.
Even so, financial flows to the oil market are still somewhat moderate. Trading volumes have remained low and speculative positioning in oil is relatively weak, which could pave the way for higher prices in the coming months, Citigroup analysts including Francesco Martoccia wrote in a report. .
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