Oil slips as investors weigh up supply factors

OilReuters

Impact of unrest in Venezuela on the oil market

OPIS Global Head of Energy analysis Tom Kloza on the outlook for oil prices.

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Oil fell on Thursday after data showing a rise in U.S. inventories weighed on sentiment already rattled by the global economy, though prices were buoyed by the prospect that supply could fall short of global demand.

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Brent crude oil futures were last down 50 cents, or 0.8, at $62.19 a barrel by 1310 GMT.

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U.S. crude futures were down 75 cents, or 1.39 percent, at $53.26.

"WTI and Brent crude oil both remain rangebound following a failed attempt to move higher," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

"Supply fundamentals have increasingly been turning supportive in recent weeks, but against this the market still worries about the yet-to-be-realized – if at all – impact on demand from weaker macroeconomic fundamentals."

Though the United States published robust jobs data last week, global markets remain nervous after China reported the lowest annual economic growth in nearly 30 years in January. That focuses yet more attention on the outcome of U.S.-China talks to end a trade spat between the world's top two economies.

The oil price also came under pressure as weekly data published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed an unwelcome increase in stocks of crude oil.

Some analysts, however, were relieved that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by only 1.3 million barrels in the week to Feb. 1, against expectations for an increase of 2.2 million barrels.

A decline in OPEC production and a squeeze on supply from Iran and Venezuela from U.S. sanctions have led many analysts to forecast that the market will be balanced in 2019.

The oil price is showing a 20 percent gain so far this year.

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Further price support is provided by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to tighten the market.

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, told OPEC it had pumped 10.24 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, two OPEC sources told Reuters, exceeding requirements agreed in the supply pact. The kingdom pumped 10.643 million bpd in December.

"We believe that financial markets may be overestimating the risks of a global recession," said Jean-Pierre Durante, Head of Applied Research at Pictet Wealth Management.

"Moreover, lower oil prices – prices were between 14 percent and 18 percent lower in January than their 2018 average – are likely to stimulate economic activity and oil demand, particularly in emerging markets."

Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's oil industry are expected to freeze sales proceeds of Venezuelan crude exports to the United States.

(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper in Londong and Henning Gloystein in Singapore Editing by Susan Fenton and David Goodman)