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Oil hits $90 on Saudi, Russia maneuver; trade awaits next demand move

Published Sep 04, 2023 09:04PM ET Updated Sep 05, 2023 08:55AM ET
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Investing.com -- The Saudi quest to get to $90 oil came through on Tuesday when the kingdom, in an announcement synced with allies Russia, said the million-barrels-per-day cut it introduced in July will be enforced till December, with the Kremlin contributing an additional 300,000 barrels daily.

The total daily reduction of 1.3 million barrels till the year-end had not been anticipated by most traders — many had expected a month-by-month announcement — and the maneuver designed to unnerve the market to the upside achieved its desired effect.

London-traded Brent settled at $90.04 per barrel, up $1.04, or 1.2%, on the day. It earlier hit a session peak of $91.14, its highest since August 2022. Last week Brent rose 4.8%. That was after a combined 2.3% drop over two prior weeks. Even before that, the global crude benchmark rose for seven weeks in a row, gaining a total of 18%.

New York-traded West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude settled up $1.14, or 1.3%, at $86.69 per barrel after a 10-month peak at $88.03. That extended last week’s 7.2% gain for the U.S. crude benchmark. Prior to that, the WTI experienced a combined 4% drop over two weeks as the economy in top oil importer China sputtered. Even before that, WTI gained 20% over seven weeks.

Despite the slow start this week, momentum remains with the rally,” Craig Erlam, analyst at online trading platform OANDA, said, remarking on the weak pricing for both Brent and WTI earlier on Tuesday before the market hype over the cuts.

Oil’s race to $90 happened with less than three weeks left for summer, the season Americans like driving the most. With the fall season of lower oil usage set to begin on Sept 23, crude prices would typically retreat a little, sometimes meaningfully, in the world’s largest consuming country.

But that may not happen this time, not with the Saudi obsession of ultimately getting oil to $100 a barrel or beyond. The Arabs, who control much of the world’s oil exports, have been fixated on triple digit pricing since losing that advantage in August 2022, when Brent crude hovered above $105. Prior to that, the global crude benchmark reached nearly $140 in March last year, right after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The question is whether demand will be supportive to sustain such pricing, a challenge the Saudis are trying to meet in a different way. 

As suggested earlier, with the advent of fall, or autumn, U.S. driving activity will begin to lessen and the deceleration will heighten as the weather gradually turns colder, heading into the winter months. The chill will, of course, bring its own attendant demand for heating. Even so, the period between now and late October/early November, known as the ‘shoulder season’ between end-summer and advanced fall, typically sees less demand for oil and, correspondingly, lower prices for crude.

But the Saudis and Russians, and their allies in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, are planning to cut as many barrels from production and exports as necessary to defy market norms.

While demand is usually the driver for the pricing of anything, in this case, the Saudis and their allies are using supply to overwhelm the buying component in the oil market to skew market balance in their way. The idea is to create such an artificially short supply that the trade simply cannot function in a normal way.

Key to this is the one-million-barrels-per day in additional cuts, on top of other existing production rationing, that the Saudis have been carrying out since July. By extending this till the year-end — and widening it with Russian help — the kingdom is hoping to create a different sort of market phenomenon for pricing.

“Everyone’s looking at the flat price of crude oil and saying gasoline and diesel prices will also go to the moon,” said John Kilduff, founding partner of New York-based energy hedge fund Again Capital. “But fuel uptake for this summer is still very much down to earth, higher than a year ago, yes, but still below pre-pandemic levels.” 

“You have an odd situation where the Saudis are trying to create a supply situation even lower than the seasonal lows in demand,” Kilduff continued. “All I’ll say is don’t test the mettle of consumers and the global economy because when either collapses, your dream of higher and higher prices will also go with that.”  

The four-week average of U.S. gasoline consumption — the best gauge of fuel demand —  was at 9.033M barrels per day for the week ended Aug. 25 versus the year-ago level of 8.874M. 

But consumption is still well below pre-pandemic levels, with 9.777M barrels used daily for the comparative week to Aug 23, 2019.  

In China, government and private surveys offered mixed signals on manufacturing activity, as the world’s largest oil consumer struggles to shore up a post-COVID economic recovery. Those long oil are, instead, hoping that Beijing will release more stimulus measures in the coming weeks to further support growth. Focus this week is also on Chinese trade data to gauge just how well crude demand is holding up in the country.

Some are looking at the start of the North Atlantic hurricane season as one factor that could be supportive for oil, especially if there are serious disruptions in production and damage to oil installations in the US Gulf Coast of Mexico. But history has been on the kinder side of late to America where hurricane damage is concerned.

(Peter Nurse and Ambar Warrick contributed to this)

Oil hits $90 on Saudi, Russia maneuver; trade awaits next demand move
 

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Comments (11)
Amin Kaveh
Amin Kaveh Sep 08, 2023 1:57PM ET
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Hi Barani,  I am wondering which news agency or website first published the news. I am not asking about the analysis or article, I am asking about the first news agency that reported it at first.
Dave Jones
Dave Jones Sep 05, 2023 4:08PM ET
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What a surprise.
peter neal
peter neal Sep 05, 2023 3:55PM ET
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Certainly good news for inflation. Gas will be 4 buck.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 05, 2023 3:55PM ET
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The Fed can keep interest rates as high as possible, raise it a couple more times; wonderful for the US economy and oil "demand", don't you think? :)
EL LA
EL LA Sep 05, 2023 3:39PM ET
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Bull flag. Yes, we can only guess what's next... but for now we have a bull flag..
Royce Murph
Royce Murph Sep 05, 2023 9:35AM ET
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Once again Another pre ejaculation article
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 05, 2023 9:35AM ET
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Hey wise guy, have you ever heard of news cycles? News doesn't wait for events. When events happen, the story gets updated. Go learn some basics about how news works.
Eric Schorvitz
Ebschor Sep 05, 2023 9:16AM ET
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This article did not age well.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 05, 2023 9:16AM ET
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Did you know when this 1.3M bbls till-the-year-end cut would be announced? If not, please save your counsel. No one's a Nostradamus here.
Barry Nickerson
Subbuilder Sep 05, 2023 9:16AM ET
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Barani Krishnan You work here.  Ignore the trolls and anyone with at least 1/2 a brain will understand,
Eric Schorvitz
Ebschor Sep 05, 2023 9:16AM ET
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Barani Krishnan  Title of your article "...trade awaits next demand move", when in actually, trade awaits next supply move. Don't need to be Nostradamus to know the oil market is controlled by cartels.
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 05, 2023 9:16AM ET
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Eric Schorvitz  You remind me of someone who's got his head buried so deep into the ground that he's sees, hears nothing else. You speak as though production exists in a vacuum; that you don't need commensurate demand as prices go higher and higher. Good luck, my seer of oily logic. I will see how long this one-way game goes.
Andrew Ulferts
Andrew Ulferts Sep 05, 2023 9:10AM ET
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I just read a good article stating that Chinese flights and long distance driving is back to 110% of 2019 highs. And today SA announced they are extending their 1 mbpd cuts through 2023! Long live oil and natural gas! Oil! Oil! Oil!
Boyan Davidov
Boyan Davidov Sep 05, 2023 9:09AM ET
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Amazing timing, just as the announcement from the Saudis came : )))
Ladi Spaqi
Ladi Spaqi Sep 05, 2023 5:54AM ET
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They (Saudis, Russia) want to push close to $100??
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Sep 05, 2023 5:54AM ET
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Saudis want the price higher but they have to be careful in the long term if the high price cause a global recession.....Putin doesn't care about other countries going into recession but his master Xi won't be happy if the oil price goes anywhere near $100/barrel
Adam Sam
Adam Sam Sep 05, 2023 1:46AM ET
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US should join OPEC
Barani Krishnan
Barani Krishnan Sep 05, 2023 1:46AM ET
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Yaa, why don't we rewrite the US trust act? Why have free markets and competition? Let's do it the NOC way because oil longs need to make money, right?
 
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