Falling output and weaker dollar push oil to 2016 high

*Offshore oil rig

*Offshore oil rig

Oil hit its highest level of 2016 on Wednesday, driven by a falling dollar and evidence of declining U.S. supply, putting the price on course for its strongest monthly performance since last April.

The prospect of an agreement among the world’s largest exporters to limit production, which had provided the catalyst for a 55 percent rally since mid-February, evaporated almost two weeks ago when a meeting between OPEC members and their non-OPEC counterparts ended in stalemate.

Since then, Brent has hit its highest since November and, aided by further evidence of declining output anywhere from the U.S. shale basin to the North Sea, attracted fresh investment cash. [O/ICE] [CFTC/]

“There was definitely a bit of a turning point when we had the initial sell-off after the producer meeting,” CMC Markets strategist Jasper Lawler said.

“That got reversed and went on to show that (a production freeze) was a fairly small part of what had been supporting the price and really, it’s the supply outlook for the U.S. coupled with the dollar that is really driving returns.”

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 88 cents at $46.62 a barrel at 1135 GMT, having hit a 2016 high of $46.81, while U.S. crude futures CLc1 rose 80 cents to $44.84 a barrel.

Brent received extra support from news that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait appear no closer to restarting their jointly operated Khafji oilfield, which produced 280,000 to 300,000 barrels per day before environmental problems forced a closure in October 2014.

WTI was further bolstered after the American Petroleum Institute reported a draw of nearly 1.1 million barrels in U.S. crude inventories last week. Analysts had expected a 2.4-million-barrel build.

The dollar was down on the day, having fallen about 5 percent against a basket of currencies .DXY since the start of the year, even as U.S. interest rates are expected to rise.

The Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee meets on Wednesday but is not expected to announce any change in rates, leaving traders to scour the post-meeting statement for any clues on the outlook.

A weaker dollar cuts the cost to non-U.S. investors of buying dollar-denominated assets such as oil futures.

Yet analysts were cautious about forecasting further gains in the near future.

“Despite speculative overheating, any news that could suggest a higher price is viewed as a good reason to buy …We meanwhile see worrying parallels to 2015, when oil prices rose sharply well into May before collapsing in the second half of the year,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note.
*Amanda Cooper & Henning Gloystein; editing – Dale Hudson & Jason Neely – Reuters

About the Author