Oil gains as traders grapple with tight supplies, softer dollar

Brent for September settlement was up 1.1% at $112.80.
Image: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Oil rose as investors weighed solid physical market signals against concerns that a global slowdown will erode demand.

West Texas Intermediate futures rose above $109 a barrel, erasing earlier losses, while trading volumes were curtailed by the US Fourth of July holiday. The dollar weakened, making commodities priced in the currency more attractive.

Crude has been buffeted over the past month by indications of an impending recession. Yet there have also been supply outages, with protests disrupting exports in Libya and workers in Norway set to strike, offsetting some of the weakness. Key time spreads also show a robust market.

Oil remains more than 40% higher this year after being boosted by the war in Ukraine, which triggered a wave of sanctions on Russian flows. Many product prices are still elevated and Vitol Group, the biggest independent oil trader, warned at the weekend that surging fuel costs are starting to hurt demand.

Lofty gasoline prices are a challenge for President Joe Biden, who has tapped strategic oil reserves and pushed Middle Eastern suppliers to raise output to bring costs down. In a tweet, Biden urged companies running gas stations to lower prices, a post that was criticised by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos.

“Risk-on sentiment and a stronger dollar have helped to lift prices,” said Giovanni Staunovo, a commodity analyst at UBS Group AG. A potential strike in Norway is also adding to supply issues, he said.

Prices:
  • WTI for August delivery rose 0.8% to $109.30 a barrel at 8:02 a.m. New York time
    • Due to the US holiday, there will be no settlement on Monday
  • Brent for September settlement was up 1.1% at $112.80

Across the oil market there remain signs of strength. Brent is in a backwardation of almost $4 a barrel over its nearest two months — a bullish structure that indicates scarce supply — while there has also been tightness in the Middle East as Oman futures surge relative to the regional Dubai benchmark.

Much of the recent strength in oil markets has come in the refined fuels sector. Record dislocations against crude have few quick or easy fixes, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a report.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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