Oil extended gains after closing at a seven-week high as a third of the Gulf of Mexico’s crude output was halted by a storm and U.S. crude inventories declined more than expected.
Futures in New York rose as much as 0.8% after settling above $60 a barrel on Wednesday for the first time since May. Major producers from BP Plc to Chevron Corp. have evacuated crew from offshore installations due to the storm, which could grow into a hurricane this week. A fourth weekly draw in American stockpiles and signs that the Federal Reserve is prepared to cut interest rates also supported prices.
Oil has been rallying in the past week with Iranian tensions escalating after the British navy intervened to stop the country from blocking an oil tanker leaving the Persian Gulf. U.S. President Donald Trump vowed Wednesday to impose more sanctions on Iran and accused it of violating the nuclear accord that he withdrew from last year. Still, there are lingering concerns over a weak global economy and its impact on demand for fuels.
“The break above $60 is likely to attract some additional short-term momentum, but if the storm passes in the Gulf of Mexico we could see that fade away as the focus returns to demand worries,” said Ole Sloth Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “If the economic outlook has deteriorated so much that the Federal Reserve feels the need for stimulus, it’s hard to see fundamental justification for higher prices.”
West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery gained 36 cents, or 0.6%, to $60.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 10 a.m. in London. The contract closed at the highest level since May 22 on Wednesday.
Brent for September added 43 cents, or 0.6%, to $67.44 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe Exchange. It climbed 4.4% to $67.01 on Wednesday, the highest close since May 29. The global benchmark crude traded at a $6.58 premium to WTI for the same month.
Gulf of Mexico operators have shut 602,715 barrels a day of oil production ahead of the storm, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a notice. Chevron said Tuesday it began closing five of its platforms and will start moving out all associated personnel. Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP have also evacuated workers.
GULF COAST STORM WRAP: 32% of Oil, 18% of Gas Output Shut
The Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday that U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 9.5 million barrels last week to the lowest in almost three months. That compared with the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey for a 2.9 million barrel decline.
Other oil-market news:
Saudi Arabia will pump less than 10 million barrels a day of crude in August and export fewer than 7 million a day, according to a person familiar with Saudi energy policy. Production will be little changed from July and previous months.
The coming shake-up in shipping fuel from new environmental rules is spurring a surge in hedging and speculative trades in China.
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