By Jessica Summers
“Oil is pulling back from its recent rally as virus concerns and relief bill uncertainty” are causing investors some unease, said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group.
After a run of seven weekly gains driven by euphoria over a series of vaccine breakthroughs, oil’s weakness points to the concerns over how long it will take for vaccines to roll out and the impact on energy consumption. At the same time, the OPEC+ alliance plans to add supply back to the market next year, another risk factor.
“Our forecast is there are more downside risks going forward than upside tailwinds for the energy markets,” said Tariq Zahir, managing member of the global macro program at Tyche Capital Advisors LLC. “We have already seen downward revisions for oil demand going into next year and with OPEC wanting to start to add production,” demand may weaken further.
Oil’s futures curve has also weakened. Brent’s prompt timespread is in contango, a bearish market structure where near-term prices are more cheaper than later-dated ones. The spread was in backwardation earlier in the month.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump raised geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, accusing Iran of being responsible for a rocket attack near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Sunday. “Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over,” he said in a tweet.
The Islamic Republic’s Foreign Ministry said the claims were baseless. The country’s oil minister said last week that Iran was planning to double its production in 2021, which will clash with OPEC+ efforts to gradually increase supply without flooding the market.