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Oil steadies as Saudi, Kuwait signals offset demand fears

Oil steadies as Saudi, Kuwait signals offset demand fears

Reuters
Houston
Oil prices were little changed on Monday as expectations that major producers would continue to reduce global supplies faced worries about sluggish crude demand growth due to the U.S.-China trade war.
International benchmark Brent crude was 6 cents higher at $58.59 a barrel by 11:51 a.m. CDT (1651 GMT), after trading between $57.88 and $58.88.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rose 26 cents to $54.76 per barrel, after trading in a range of $53.54 to $55.18.
Investors were torn between forecasts of slowing global oil demand growth and chatter about renewed efforts by major producers to curtail output and support prices, analysts said.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, have agreed to cut 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) since Jan. 1.
Kuwait was “fully committed” to the OPEC+ agreement, Oil Minister Khaled al-Fadhel said, adding the OPEC member has cut its own output by more than required by the accord.
He also said fears of a global economic downturn, which have weighed down on prices, were “exaggerated,” and global demand for crude should pick up in the second half, helping reduce the surplus in oil inventories gradually.
Analysts said that in a sign that de-facto OPEC leader Saudi Arabia intends to support prices, state-run Saudi Aramco is ready to launch what could be the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO).
The Saudi government will decide when it will take place based on its perception of “what would be the optimum market condition,” senior Aramco executive Khalid al-Dabbagh said in an analyst call.
The official said Saudi Aramco has also signed a letter of intent with India’s Reliance to potentially buy a stake in its refining and petrochemicals business.
“The Saudis will need a higher price for oil for its IPO, and this confirms they’ll do whatever it takes to get oil prices up,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Analysts said more reductions were needed to support prices as forecasters and government agencies issue gloomy predictions for the global economy and oil demand growth.
The economic outlook has deteriorated worldwide as the trade dispute between the United States and China escalates, a survey by Germany’s Ifo economic institute said in its quarterly survey of nearly 1,200 experts in more than 110 countries.
“It’s going to take the market far longer to come back into balance, which has forced OPEC and non-OPEC producers to continue with their production cuts,” said Andy Lipow, president at Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday mounting signs of an economic slowdown had caused global oil demand to grow at its slowest pace since the financial crisis of 2008.
A weakening dollar also propped up oil prices as investors feared the trade war would slow U.S. economic growth, analysts said. A softer greenback makes dollar-denominated crude cheaper for foreign buyers.

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