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March 28, 2017

Crude rises amid bargain-hunting, return of risk appetite – Vandana Hari
 

1. Crude futures were trending up in Asia Tuesday amid renewed bargain-hunting as prices lingered around four-month lows, helped by an overall lift from a return of risk appetite in the stock markets. Though the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average lost ground for the eighth straight day Monday, equities across Asia were bouncing back Tuesday. The region’s major indexes across Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia were all in the green as markets began shrugging off the US administration’s setback on repealing and replacing the Obama-era health care law. Major stock indexes as well as the US dollar had come under renewed pressured Monday amid concerns that following the Obamacare repeal debacle, the Donald Trump administration may also struggle to push through its tax reforms and infrastructure spending plans.

2. May ICE Brent futures were trading around $51.00/barrel at 0600 GMT (2.00 pm SGT, 11.30 am IST) Tuesday, up 25 cents from Monday’s close. May WTI was changing hands around $48.00, stronger by 27 cents. The contracts closed 5 cents and 24 cents lower higher respectively.

3. However, crude remains under the shadow of lingering uncertainty over whether OPEC and its non-OPEC collaborators will extend their 1.8 million b/d of combined supply cuts after the current agreements expire in June. Though consensus expectations are for a six-month rollover, producers have refrained from declaring a commitment to prolonging the cuts, while global oil inventories have been draining more slowly than expected and US crude production has been creeping up. A sustained build-up in US commercial crude inventories on a weekly basis has also spooked the market. The market will be watching the American Petroleum Institute’s latest weekly stocks data due out later Tuesday.

4. Meanwhile, hedge funds cut their net length on ICE Brent futures for the second week in a row, but by a much smaller 3 million barrels compared with a reduction of 15 million barrels on CME WTI futures as of March 21, the latest data from ICE showed. The US crude benchmark has lost more ground than Brent in this month’s rout and the WTI/Brent spread was at a year-to-date widest of -$3.02 at Monday’s close.

5. The US dollar was also strengthening in Asian trade Tuesday. The Bloomberg spot US dollar index was trading around 99.243 at 0100 GMT, versus its close of 99.166. The greenback has slid from its 14-year highs above 103 notched at the start of the year.


Data In Sight



Vandana Hari

Founder, Vanda Insights
Singapore

 

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