Oil Edges Lower as Investors Weigh Tight Market and Soft Demand

image is BloomburgMedia_S98ZLLT1UM0W00_23-02-2024_05-18-08_638442432000000000.jpg

Oil storage tanks at Osaka Bay in Osaka, Japan, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. Japan is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) figures on Feb. 15. Photographer: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Bloomberg

Oil dipped in Asian trading as investors weighed signs of a tightening market against persistent concerns around demand.

Brent slipped toward $83 a barrel after rising 1.6% over the previous two sessions, with prices at the upper end of a tight range. West Texas Intermediate traded near $78. Timespreads are indicating a more robust market, while US crude inventories expanded less than expected last week.

Oil has been caught between the bullish tailwinds of lower OPEC+ output and rising Middle East tensions, and concerns about the outlook for consumption from top importer China. That’s led to futures taking their cue from the fluctuations of wider stock markets at times.


“Strong-enough oil demand juxtaposed with weak Chinese macroeconomic data has been a recurring theme,” Michael Tran, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets LLC, said in a note. “So far, fundamental signals have been a mixed bag.”

Attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants have added to the risk premium for oil futures. The group and their Iranian backers are preparing for a lengthy confrontation with the US and its allies around the waterway — regardless of how the Israel-Hamas war plays out.

While US crude stockpiles rose less than expected they are still up for a fourth week. Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI futures, also expanded for a second week, but remain below seasonal averages.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

By Yongchang Chin


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