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Rich Asplund

Crude Advances Ahead of Thursday's OPEC+ Meeting

January WTI crude oil (CLF24) this morning is up +0.71 (+0.93%), and Jan RBOB gasoline (RBF24) is up +0.0105 (+0.48%).

Crude oil and gasoline prices this morning are moderately higher.  Crude has support on signs of U.S. economic strength after U.S. Q3 GDP expanded more than expected.  Also, short covering ahead of  Thursday's OPEC+ meeting is lifting crude prices.  A stronger dollar today and a bearish EIA inventory report limit gains in crude.

Today's global economic news was stronger than expected and bullish for energy demand and crude prices.  U.S. Q3 GDP was revised upward by +0.3 to +5.2% (q/q annualized), stronger than expectations of +5.0%.  Also, Eurozone Nov economic confidence rose +0.3 to a 4-month high of 93.8, stronger than expectations of 93.6.

A rift among OPEC+ members regarding crude production levels has delayed the group's monthly meeting until Thursday and is weighing on crude prices.  Saudi Arabia, which has unilaterally cut back its crude output by 1.0 million bpd since July, is now asking other OPEC+ members to reduce their oil production levels, which has prompted pushback from some African oil producers, including Angola and Nigeria.  OPEC+ delegates said they were progressing toward a compromise but have yet to clinch an agreement.  The rift among OPEC+ members about production levels reduces the likelihood that the group will extend their crude output cuts or make deeper cuts.

A decline in crude in floating storage is bullish for prices.  Monday's weekly data from Vortexa showed that the amount of crude oil held worldwide on tankers that have been stationary for at least a week fell -2.9% w/w to 86.52 million bbl as of Nov 24.

Increased crude consumption in India, the world's third largest crude consumer, is bullish for oil prices after India's oil product consumption in October rose +3.7% y/y to 19.3 MMT, the highest five months.

An increase in Russian crude exports is bearish for oil prices.  Tanker-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg shows 3.24 million bpd of crude was shipped from Russian ports in the week to Nov 26, up +370,000 bpd from the prior week and near the highest in four months.

The tightness in the oil market is expected to continue due to the extension of OPEC+ production cuts.  Saudi Arabia recently said it would maintain its unilateral crude production cut of 1.0 million bpd through December.  The move will hold Saudi Arabia's crude output at about 9 million bpd, the lowest level in three years.  Russia also recently announced that it would maintain its 300,000 bpd cut in crude production through December.  OPEC Oct crude production was little changed, rising +50,000 bpd to 28.08 million bpd.

Today's weekly EIA report was bearish for crude and products.  EIA crude inventories unexpectedly rose +1.61 million bbl versus expectations of a -50,000 bbl draw.  Also, EIA gasoline supplies unexpectedly rose +1.76 million bbl versus expectations of a -700,000 bbl draw.  In addition, EIA distillate stockpiles unexpectedly rose +5.22 million bbl versus expectations of a -1.34 million bbl draw.  Finally, crude supplies at Cushing, the delivery point of WTI futures, rose +1.85 million bbl.

Today's EIA report showed that (1) U.S. crude oil inventories as of Nov 24 were +0.2% above the seasonal 5-year average, (2) gasoline inventories were -1.4% below the seasonal 5-year average, and (3) distillate inventories were -10.0% below the 5-year seasonal average.  U.S. crude oil production in the week ended Nov 24 was unchanged w/w at a record high of 13.2 million bpd.

Baker Hughes reported last Wednesday that active U.S. oil rigs in the week ended Nov 24 were unchanged at 500 rigs, modestly above the 1-3/4 year low of 494 rigs from Nov 10.  The number of U.S. oil rigs has fallen this year after moving sharply higher during 2021-22 from the 18-year pandemic low of 172 rigs posted in Aug 2020 to a 3-1/2 year high of 627 rigs in December 2022.

On the date of publication, Rich Asplund did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.
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