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U.S. Crude Oil Surges Above $82 per Barrel, Marking Second Consecutive Weekly Gain

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Lauren Miller

June 22, 2024 - 05:45 am

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U.S. Crude Oil Trades Above $82 per Barrel

U.S. crude oil prices have surged above $82 per barrel, positioning for a second consecutive weekly gain. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is leading this charge, demonstrating a significant increase over the week. JPMorgan analysts forecast that Brent crude will hit $90 by September due to heightened summer fuel demand. This upward trend is supported by a reduction in U.S. crude oil, gasoline, and diesel inventories last week. Patrick de Haan, an analyst at GasBuddy, noted that these stockpile drawdowns could drive up gas prices.

West Texas Intermediate and Brent Price Gains

West Texas Intermediate has experienced a notable 4.7% increase this week, while the global benchmark Brent is up by 3.7%. This rise in prices found support on Thursday as U.S. crude and gasoline stockpiles fell for the first time in weeks, indicating an uptick in demand. The decrease in inventories suggests that consumption is on the rise, which is a positive signal for the market.

Closing Energy Prices on Thursday

The energy market saw significant movements in prices on Thursday. The July contract for West Texas Intermediate closed at $82.17 per barrel, up by 60 cents, or 0.74%. Year to date, U.S. oil has gained 14.6%. Brent’s August contract closed at $85.71 per barrel, up by 64 cents, or 0.75%, with the global benchmark ahead by 11.2% year to date. RBOB Gasoline’s July contract saw a rise to $2.50 per gallon, up 0.71%, marking an 18.9% increase for the year. In contrast, Natural Gas’s July contract fell to $2.74 per thousand cubic feet, down by 5.78%, though it is still up roughly 9% year to date.

Decline in Crude Inventories

According to data released by the Energy Information Administration, crude inventories declined by 2.5 million barrels last week. This drawdown surpassed the expectations of analysts surveyed by Reuters. Gasoline stocks fell by 2.3 million barrels, while analysts had forecast a 620,000-barrel build. Distillate inventories, which include diesel, dropped by 1.7 million barrels, contrary to the analysts’ expected increase of 261,000 barrels.

Impact of Inventory Drawdowns on Gas Prices

Patrick de Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, described the inventory drawdowns as the “wrong trifecta.” He warned that the reduced stockpiles are likely to lead to higher prices at the pump. The correlation between declining inventories and rising prices is a critical factor that consumers should be aware of as it impacts their daily expenditures on fuel.

JPMorgan's Forecast on Oil Prices

JPMorgan analysts have projected a seasonal uptick in oil demand, driven by increased refinery runs, weather risks, and OPEC+ extending production cuts through the third quarter. These factors should lead to a tighter market as inventories continue to draw down. The investment bank forecasts that Brent will reach $90 per barrel in September as the market tightens.

Commodity Trading Advisors' Strategy

Ryan McKay, senior commodity strategist at TD Securities, highlighted the firm momentum of crude oil prices. However, he cautioned that this rally might fade. Commodity trading advisors could ease up on buying and potentially liquidate some of their lengths if U.S. oil drops below $80.33 and Brent falls under $84.92. This strategic insight is essential for market participants to consider as they plan their investments.

Rising Tensions in the Middle East

Tensions are escalating in the Middle East, with Israel and the Iran-backed militia group Hezbollah threatening war. Israel’s military announced on social media that operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon have been approved and validated. In response, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel that the militant group would engage in a fight with “no rules and with no red lines” if war breaks out. These geopolitical tensions could have significant implications for oil prices, as seen in previous conflicts.

Historical Impact of Middle East Conflicts on Oil Prices

Oil prices rallied in April to annual highs when OPEC member Iran and Israel nearly went to war. However, traders shifted their focus back to market fundamentals after tensions eased, unwinding the risk premium that had lifted crude futures. The market’s reaction to geopolitical events is a crucial factor that influences price movements.

Expert Analysis on Potential Israel-Hezbollah Conflict

Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, cautioned that an Israel-Hezbollah confrontation could be a trigger for direct Iranian involvement in the conflict. Given Tehran’s staunch support for Hezbollah, such a development could have severe implications for the oil market. Croft’s analysis highlights the interconnectedness of geopolitical events and commodity prices, emphasizing the need for market participants to stay informed about global developments.

Strategic Importance of Monitoring Inventory Levels

The strategic importance of monitoring inventory levels cannot be overstated. Crude oil, gasoline, and diesel inventories serve as indicators of market supply and demand dynamics. Investors and analysts closely watch these figures to make informed decisions. The recent drawdowns in U.S. inventories suggest a tightening market, which could lead to higher prices in the near term.

Conclusion

In conclusion, U.S. crude oil trading above $82 per barrel reflects a strong market driven by reduced inventories and increased demand. The potential for higher prices is further supported by geopolitical tensions and strategic forecasts from major banks like JPMorgan. As the market continues to evolve, staying informed about these factors will be crucial for making sound investment decisions. With West Texas Intermediate and Brent showing substantial gains, the energy market remains a focal point for investors looking to capitalize on these trends.