Brent crude and WTI: Oil prices stay higher after US jobs report

Jessica Morris
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US shale gas is finally starting to succumb to low oil prices (Source: Getty)

Oil prices rose today, as strong US employment data fed into optimism that the market may have finally bottomed out.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 1.4 per cent to $37.59 per barrel this morning, putting it on course to end the week with a gain of more than five per cent. Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude, the US benchmark, swelled 1.1 per cent to $34.95.

Official figures from the US' statistics bureau showed US job openings rose to 242,000, smashing expectations of 195,000, and helping to allay fears that the world's largest economy risks slipping into a recession.

Earlier today, data from the Energy Information Administration showed US oil production fell for the sixth consecutive straight week to 9.08m barrels per day last week. However, inventories hit a new record of 517.98m barrels.

Many analysts are expecting US oil production to tail off this year, as banks become increasingly reluctant to throw lifelines to the country's cash-strapped shale producers.

Despite proving more resilient than expected, US shale producers are starting to succumb to low oil prices, which have fallen around 70 per cent since June 2014.

"The tight credit market will make it difficult for US shale producers to refinance upcoming debt and we may see an accelerated decline in US oil production in 2016-17," ANZ said in a note.

Yesterday, Nigeria’s oil minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said that the second meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and non-Opec producers will take place in Russia on 20 March, where they'll continue talks on freezing oil production.

It comes after De facto Opec leader Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela agreed a preliminary production freeze deal in Doha last month.

However, Iran has vowed to continue pumping more oil, as it seeks to regain the market share lost during years of economic sanctions.

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