Thursday 3 January 2019 5:16 pm

Oil price volatility driven by supply curbs and worries about economic contraction

Oil prices were changeable today as evidence that production had dropped was counterbalanced by fears of an econonomic contraction that could hit demand.

A survey from Reuters showed oil supply had its largest month-on-month drop since January 2017 in December.

The 15 countries that make up the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) pumped 32.68m barrels per day (bpd) last month, the survey found, down from 460,000 bpd in November.


Opec’s formal plan to boost crude prices by cutting supply only took effect on Tuesday, but the survey shows that countries such as Saudi Arabia may have moved to cut supply prior to the deadline.

The survey suggested Saudi supply fell 400,000 bpd, from a record high of 11m bpd in November after US President Donald Trump demanded more oil to make up for sanctions-related losses from Iran.

However, despite the supply curbs oil prices were choppy today, on worries about global economic growth.

Brent crude was flat at $54.88 per barrel having started the day lower and climbed higher during the afternoon, while West Texas intermediate crude edged up slightly to $46.67 per barrel, having been on a rollercoaster ride throughout the day.

“Oil is flip-flopping on concerns of supply and demand,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group. “It’s really a battle between the supply situation, which looks to be tightening, versus the possibility that demand will drop off.”

 

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