Crude Prices End Lower as Cease-Fire Prospects in Gaza Improve

June WTI crude oil (CLM24) on Tuesday closed down -0.70 (-0.85%), and June RBOB gasoline (RBM24) closed down -3.97 (-1.45%).

Crude and gasoline prices Tuesday posted moderate losses.   A stronger dollar (DXY00) on Tuesday pressured energy prices.  Also, an easing of Middle East tensions is weighing on crude oil.  In addition, some weaker-than-expected US economic news Tuesday was negative for energy demand prospects.  Losses in crude accelerated Tuesday on technical selling after oil prices fell below their 50-day moving average.

The prospects for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war have improved, easing geopolitical risks and weighing on crude prices.  Reports that a deal was now very close to releasing hostages and for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel conflict.

Tuesday's US economic news was weaker than expected and weighed on crude prices.   The Conference Board  Apr consumer confidence index fell -6.1 to a 1-3/4 year low of 97.0, weaker than expectations of 104.0.  Also, the Apr MNI Chicago PMI unexpectedly fell -3.5 to 37.9, weaker than expectations of an increase to 45.0 and the steepest pace of contraction in 17 months.

A decrease 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 -17% w/w to 62.83 million bbl as of April 26.

Reduced crude demand in India, the world's third-largest crude consumer, is negative for oil prices after India's March oil demand fell -0.6% y/y to 21.09 MMT.

Crude prices have underlying support from the Israel-Hamas war and concern that the war might spread to Hezbollah in Lebanon or even to a direct conflict with Iran.  Also, attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Iran-backed Houthi rebels have forced shippers to divert shipments around the southern tip of Africa instead of going through the Red Sea, disrupting global crude oil supplies.

Crude has support from the recent Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian refineries that damaged several Russian oil processing facilities, limiting Russia's fuel exporting capacity.  Russia's fuel exports in the week to April 21 fell by -500,000 bpd from the prior week to 3.45 million bpd.  JPMorgan Chase said it sees 900,000 bpd of Russian refinery capacity that could be offline "for several weeks if not months" from the attacks, adding $4 a barrel of risk premium to oil prices.

Crude prices have support from April 3 when OPEC+, at its monthly meeting, did not recommend any changes to their existing crude output cuts, which kept about 2 million bpd of production cuts in place until the end of June.  However, OPEC crude production in March rose +10,000 bpd to 26.860 million bpd, a bearish factor for oil prices as Iraq and UAE continue to pump above their production quotas.  

The consensus is for Wednesday's weekly EIA crude inventories to fall by -2.5 million bbl and gasoline supplies to fall by -1.0 million bbl.

Last Wednesday's EIA report showed that (1) US crude oil inventories as of April 19 were -3.4% below the seasonal 5-year average, (2) gasoline inventories were -3.6% below the seasonal 5-year average, and (3) distillate inventories were -6.8% below the 5-year seasonal average.  US crude oil production in the week ending April 19 was unchanged w/w at 13.1 million bpd, below the recent record high of 13.3 million bpd.

Baker Hughes reported last Friday that active US oil rigs in the week ended April 26 fell by -5 rigs to 506 rigs, moderately above the 2-year low of 494 rigs posted on November 10.  The number of US oil rigs has fallen over the past year from the 4-year high of 627 rigs posted in December 2022. 

More Crude Oil News from Barchart

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.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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