Crude Oil Price Analysis: Hedge Funds Bullish Again as Sanctions Loom

Oil prices climb as Iran sanctions loom

Oil prices climb as Iran sanctions loom

Oil traded below $70 a barrel as investors assessed whether other Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) members can fill the supply gap created by U.S. sanctions on Iran and economic collapse in Venezuela.

Oil traders were also watching the progress of category 4 Hurricane Florence, which is expected to make landfall on the U.S. East Coast by Friday.

Oil prices were up on the week, buoyed in earlier sessions by a larger-than-expected draw in US crude inventories, weakness in the USA dollar and a reported fall in US production, Commerzbank said in a note.

Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, traded at more than a $10/bbl premium to US futures as fears of lost Iranian output buoyed one grade and a supply glut undermined the other.

USA light crude settled down $1.78, or 2.5 per cent, at $68.59 a barrel.

The International Energy Agency warned that although the oil market was tightening at the moment and world oil demand would reach 100 million barrels per day (bpd) in the next three months, global economic risks were mounting.

"The looming supply gap that the loss of Iranian oil exports represents is still ahead of us and that early November U.S. deadline to reduced imports to zero is fast approaching".

The softness in recent days has taken the wind out of the sails of crude oil, but it does not mean we are on the verge of another downturn.

In Asia, South Korea has stopped lifting Iranian oil since July.

"This is a huge uncertainty on the market - how countries, which buy nearly 2 million barrels per day of Iranian oil, will act". The sanctions will target Iran's oil exports from November.

"We think oil market fundamentals are increasingly supportive of crude prices, at least at current levels", said Gordon Gray, HSBC's global head of oil and gas equity research. Brent rude prices fell in August however extra fair lately rose to 2-month highs round $eighty a barrel.

"Crude oil production in OPEC rose month-on-month by 278,000 barrels a day in August, to 32.57 million bpd in August", the oil cartel said. The report provides further indication the rapid oil demand that helped Opec and allies get rid of a supply glut will moderate in 2019. EIA expected Brent spot prices will average 73 dollars and 74 dollars per barrel in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

A spokesman for Japan's biggest refiner JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corp (5020.T) said his firm had not received government orders to halt Iranian oil imports.

The latest data from OPEC, collected both by direct communication with producers and from secondary sources, shows a contrasting picture of production in Iran.

Should markets overheat and prices spike, however, Novak said Russian Federation could boost its output.

OPEC said it expects demand growth of 1.41 million bpd in 2019, a 20,000-bpd downgrade from its previous forecast.

U.S. crude stocks fell 5.3 million barrels in the week to September 7 to 396.2 million barrels, the lowest since February 2015 and about 3 percent below the five-year average for this time of year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

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