Brent oil rises above $40, highest in 2016

Supported by supply-cut expectations, brent crude oil rebounds from 12-year lows, rises above $40 per barrel

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Worker checks the valve of an oil pipe at an oil field owned by Bashneft company near the village of Nikolo-Berezovka, Russia on January 28, 2015

Brent crude rose on Monday, hitting a 2016 peak above $40 a barrel as investors rotated more assets into raw materials, with oil buying encouraged by talk that OPEC producers want a higher anchor price after a selloff that has lasted nearly two years.

Gold and iron ore also were at multi-month highs. Oil prices also got a boost from data showing a smaller-than-expected build in stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for US crude futures. But some analysts cautioned that the global crude glut remained big.

Global crude prices have risen more than 40 percent since hitting 12-year lows less than two months ago. The rebound from lows of around $26 a barrel has also been driven by chart-related buying and asset rotation by investors that resulted in higher allocations into commodities such as oil and metals, as well as equities.

US equities have risen about 8 percent since mid-February. Asian stock markets hit two-month highs.

"Money flows from broader financial markets are powering this broader rally in oil," said Scott Shelton, energy broker with ICAP in Durham, North Carolina. "I don’t think the energy fundamentals for the next few days are going to matter much as the market is making a transition."

Brent, the global crude benchmark, was up $2.18 at $40.90. Its session peak was $41.04, the highest since Dec. 9.
US crude was up $2 at $37.92 a barrel, after hitting a two-month high at $38.11.

Traders said price gains accelerated after market intelligence firm Genscape reported a smaller-than-expected rise in crude stockpiles at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub.

Major OPEC producers are privately starting to talk about a new oil price equilibrium of $50, New York-based consultancy PIRA told Reuters.

Bullish bets on Brent hit a record high in the week to March 1, while those for US crude reached November peaks as hedge funds abandoned some of their very bearish views on oil.

Technical analysts said the oil rally could be nearing exhaustion at $40. Others said the global crude market remained oversupplied by around 2 million barrels per day, while higher prices raised the prospect of US shale oil producers adding more drilling rigs after recent cutbacks.

Morgan Stanley said "a large portion" of the rally was due to dollar depreciation.

"Thus, prices can continue to rally on headlines and a dollar pullback, but the upside should be limited by bloated global inventories and producer hedging," it said in a note.

TRTWorld, Reuters