Weekly oil prices decline amid geopolitical concerns

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-16 01:39:25|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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HOUSTON, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Oil prices ended lower for the week ending June 14, with the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for July delivery decreased 2.74 percent and Brent crude oil for August delivery down 2.02 percent.

WTI closed the week at 52.51 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude finished the week at 62.01 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange. WTI and Brent have increased 15.64 percent and 15.26 percent, respectively, so far this year.

During the week, WTI and Brent moved in the same direction. The decrease of oil prices showed that traders were more concerned about geopolitical challenges in the Middle East and trade frictions between the United States and China.

Moreover, monthly oil production and energy outlook released by energy organizations also contributed to the fluctuation of the oil prices.

Oil prices declined on Monday as investors as investors were monitoring the latest development of an output-cutting deal extension. WTI dropped 0.73 dollar to settle at 53.26 dollars a barrel, while Brent crude was down 1 dollars to close at 62.29 dollars a barrel.

On Tuesday, oil prices were little changed Tuesday as investors weighed weaker demand against possible output-cut deal extension. WTI edged up 0.01 dollar to settle at 53.27 dollars a barrel, while Brent crude stayed flat at 62.29 dollars a barrel.

In its latest monthly report on the oil market, the U.S. International Energy Agency revised down the 2019 oil demand growth forecast by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.2 million bpd. Experts believed this revision was mainly due to concerns over a slowing-down global economy.

On Wednesday, oil prices declined after data showed steady increase in U.S. crude inventories. Both WTI and Brent crude slumped more than 2 dollar. WTI lowered 2.13 dollar to settle at 51.14 dollars a barrel while Brent crude was down 2.32 dollar to close at 59.97 dollars a barrel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its Weekly Petroleum Status Report that U.S. commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased by 2.2 million barrels from the previous week. Analysts believed the increasing inventory prompted concerns that higher supply coupled with sluggish global demand would continue pressure the oil prices.

Oil prices surged on Thursday after two oil tankers hit in the Sea of Oman on Thursday morning, with at least one of them operated by a Japanese company. WTI gained 1.14 dollars to settle at 52.28 dollars a barrel while Brent crude was up 1.34 dollars to close at 61.31 dollars a barrel.

The attacks came amid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Tehran, who is seeking to help ease tensions between Iran and the United States. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was responsible for the attacks without providing hard evidence while Iranian official said the attacks were "suspicious."

Oil prices rose on Friday as Middle East tensions continued to stay in focus. Analysts said concerns over output disruptions supported crude prices. WTI increased 0.23 dollars to settle at 52.51 dollars a barrel while Brent crude was up 0.70 dollars to close at 62.01 dollars a barrel.

Oil prices have kept gaining momentum since the start of the year due to some geopolitical concerns and OPEC's decision of production cut. The momentum has slowed down recently, mainly because of the concerns over downturn in demand for crude oil.

The slowing global economy continues to be a major headwind for crude oil. The slower global economic growth is expected to lead to less demand for oil, which in turn, would put downward pressure on oil prices.

Moreover, a rising U.S. dollar in the past months has dragged down the greenback-denominated crude futures, as the U.S. Dollar Index has been keeping uptrend since mid-2018. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, was up 0.58 percent at 97.5702 in late trading on Friday.

The U.S. Dollar Index is a measure of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to a basket of foreign currencies. Oil is mostly traded in dollars all over the world and a stronger dollar pressures the oil demand.

In the near future, analysts believe concerns over geopolitical challenges and global economic growth will remain as important factors for oil prices.

In the coming week, analysts believe U.S.-Iran relations and trade tensions will continue to take the spotlight. Besides, the ongoing production cuts by OPEC and Russia will continue to play their roles in tightening the global supplies, in turn, giving a boost to the oil prices.