The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, is lower by more than 7% over the past week, but some oil market observers believe crude can bounce back.
Current OPEC compliance with production cut plans remains above their historical average, and it usually takes between two to three quarters for inventories to normalize after the cuts. While demand has yet to catch up to elevated supplies, rebounding economies in Europe and steady economic growth in the U.S. could prompt more upside for oil this year.
“The spread between West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude futures prices has widened to new extremes recently, and this is a bullish development,” reports CNBC. “The spread has reached more than $11, the largest since mid-2015. WTI is trading a little over $65 per barrel, while European Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil, is trading near $76.”
Since 2016, OPEC and a number of other major oil prices like Russia have been in a concerted effort to cut 2% of the global crude supply in an attempt to diminish the global supply glut and stabilize crude prices. Analysts now project the oil market could move into a deficit in the second part of 2018 and 2019 of 0.5 million barrels and later 0.3 million barrels per day as demand begins to outpace supply.
Asia could provide a supporting pillar for the energy market as demand among Asian economies is expected to surpass $1 trillion this year, or twice as much as in 2015 and 2016. Asia-Pacific consumers consumes over 35% of the 100 million barrels of oil the world uses per day and the percentage is only rising, Reuters reports.
Brent and WTI “peaked on May 22 before selling off sharply due in part to OPEC production decisions and technical selling. While Brent has recovered back into the middle of this range, WTI remains relatively muted — rising domestic shale production and the inability to move this crude through the pipeline and to the Gulf of Mexico are two key catalysts,” according to CNBC.
Technical analysts believe the WTI/Brent spread could tighten in the near-term, meaning WTI prices could see some upside.
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