Commodities

Oil prices rise as US stockpiles drop, OPEC agrees meeting date

Reuters TOKYO | Updated on June 20, 2019 Published on June 20, 2019

Oil prices rose over 1 per cent on Thursday as official data showed US crude stocks fell more than expected and as OPEC and other producers finally agreed a date for a meeting to discuss output cuts.

Brent crude futures had risen 82 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $62.64 by 0026 GMT. They dropped 0.5 per cent on Wednesday. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 79 cents, or 1.5 per cent, at $54.55 a barrel. WTI fell 0.26 per cent in the previous session.

After swelling to near two-year highs, US crude stocks fell by 3.1 million barrels last week, compared with analyst expectations for a draw of 1.1 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.

Refined products also posted surprise draw downs due to a rise in refining and crude exports, as well as a drop in crude production.

Members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to meet on July 1, followed by a meeting with non-OPEC allies on July 2, after weeks of wrangling over dates. OPEC and its allies will discuss whether to extend a deal on cutting 1.2 million barrels per day of production that runs out this month.

Momentum for an agreement appeared to be building as the United Arab Emirates' energy minister told Al-Bayan newspaper that an extension is “logical and reasonable”. “Oil price volatility is likely to persist, but the upcoming OPEC meeting should serve to provide the markets with a reasonable backstop and will offer some much-needed respite for prices,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets in Bangkok.

Expectations the US Federal Reserve could cut interest rates at its next meeting and confirmation that the chief US trade negotiator will meet his Chinese counterpart before a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping next week are also supporting markets.

Tensions remain high in the Middle East after last week's tanker attacks, which boosted oil prices. Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted, with Washington blaming Tehran, which has denied any role.

A rocket attack on a site in southern Iraq used by foreign oil companies, including US energy giant ExxonMobil, left three people wounded and threatened to further escalate US-Iran tensions in the region.

Published on June 20, 2019

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