Brent crude crosses $86 to highest level since 2018

Oil prices have more than doubled over the past 12 months as the global economy rebounded from the pandemic.

Oil prices have also been bolstered by worries about coal and gas shortages in several countries [File: Oliver Bunic/Bloomberg]

Oil prices climbed on Monday, extending pre-weekend gains to hit multi-year highs as global supply remained tight amid solid fuel demand in the United States and elsewhere in the world as economies pick up from coronavirus pandemic-induced slumps.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 62 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $84.38 a barrel at 06:46 GMT, after gaining 1.5 percent on Friday. They touched their highest since October 2014 – $84.76 – earlier in the session.

Brent crude futures increased 56 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $86.09 a barrel, following on from last Friday’s 1.1 percent gain. The contract earlier hit its highest since October 2018 of $86.43.

“With firm fuel demand in the United States amid tight supply, oil market’s tone stayed fairly strong, which prompted some speculators to unwind short positions,” said Tetsu Emori, CEO of Emori Fund Management Inc.

Oil prices have more than doubled over the past 12 months, fanning inflationary concerns, as the global economy rebounded from the dislocation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. While consumption has surged, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies have been restrained in easing the draconian supply cuts imposed in 2020 to salvage prices. That’s driven Brent to the highest since 2018 as stockpiles fall and key timespreads balloon.

Corrections in the pipeline

Meanwhile, US energy firms last week cut oil and natural gas rigs for the first time in seven weeks even as oil prices rose, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report on Friday.

Money managers raised their net long US crude futures and options positions in the week to October 19, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday, underlining strong market sentiment.

Oil prices have also been bolstered by worries about coal and gas shortages in China, India and Europe, which spurred fuel-switching to diesel and fuel oil for power.

But analysts warn there may be some corrections in the coming weeks as the sharp rise in crude prices has led to a growing sense of caution.

“WTI’s percentage gain so far this year has reached the levels in 2007 and 2009 when we also saw a steep rally, suggesting it’s a bit overdone,” Emori said.

WTI futures contracts are currently in steep backwardation, meaning later-dated contracts trade are at a lower price than the current contract. Normally later months trade at a higher price, reflecting the costs of storing oil.

“Bullish sentiment continues to support oil prices as global supply remains tight, but immediate gains for the WTI’s nearest-term contract may be limited given steepening backwardation,” said Toshitaka Tazawa, an analyst at Fujitomi Securities Co Ltd.

Source: News Agencies

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