(MT Newswires) – Crude prices ended Friday’s session lower on concerns that the global economy is slowing, undermining the case for growth in demand for oil, but over the last five days prices rose, as supply fundamentals improved recently from concerted producer action as well as involuntary output cuts in Iran and Venezuela. The collapse of the Iran nuclear accord last year and placing of US sanctions on Tehran in November had mostly prevented a bulk of the country’s oil from reaching international markets. Meanwhile, Venezuela’s largest crude exporter had also been slapped with US sanctions amid the political crisis in the country, further reducing global crude supplies. Back home, the Energy Information Administration reported that US stockpiles slumped by a surprise 9.6 million barrels over the past week, underpinning the recent strength in prices from producer action. This also compares with the American Petroleum Institute’s report that US crude inventories had a draw of 2.133 million barrels. Finally, energy services firm Baker Hughes (BHGE) reported Friday that the number of oil rigs operating in the US dropped to the lowest level in 11 months. The tally, an indicator of future production levels, sank by 11, the fifth-straight weekly decrease, to 824 through Friday. The US gas-rig count slipped by one to 192, bringing the country’s total decline in the week to 1,016 rigs from 1,026 a week earlier.
Light, sweet crude oil for May delivery rose 0.17% for the week, settling at $59.04 per barrel at the end of Friday’s session. In other energy futures, gasoline was up 2.48% during the week, settling at $1.89 per gallon on Friday. Natural gas for May delivery fell 0.86% this week at $2.77 per 1 million British thermal unit.
The SummerHaven Dynamic Commodity Index Total Return Index (SDCITR) was 0.20% higher this week, compared with an increase of 0.74% in the previous week.
Gold wrapped up the Friday session with slight gains, settling at $1,312.30; for the week, it rose 0.84%, after the spread between three-month US treasury bills and 10-year note yields inverted for the first time since 2007, a year before the global financial crisis began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. The inversion in the yield curve coincided with twin reports from IHS Markit that showed a decline in the purchasing managers’ index for US manufacturing to the lowest level since June 2017. The same gauge for the Eurozone slipped, declining more than the market expected, exacerbating fears of a fall in demand for a slowdown in the growth of the global economy. These downbeat economic reports came just a day after the US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell dialed back expectations of interest rate hikes, signaling no increases at all in 2019 and referencing to the disconnect between wage growth and inflation, which is currently at a considerable distance from the Fed’s 2% target.
On the other hand, copper closed Friday’s session at $2.84 per pound and sank 2.08% for the week, tracking the base metals sector lower on the renewed strength of the US dollar. The greenback benefitted from weakness in the pound sterling as the UK struggled with its exit from the European Union. Legislators have not approved Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal so far, but EU leaders have offered to delay the Brexit withdrawal date until May 22 if the deal could be approved. A delay until April 12 has also been proposed if there is another failure to pass. Meanwhile, an online petition calling for the country to remain in the EU has reached some 3.5 million signatures.
In agriculture commodities, grains ended the week mostly higher: corn rose 1.54% in the week and settled at $3.78 per bushel in Friday’s session; wheat rose 1.03% and settled at $4.66 per bushel at the end of Friday’s session; and soybeans was down 0.55% for the week, and closed Friday in the red at $9.04 per bushel. Corn ended Friday’s session near one-month highs as flash flooding in a major North American producing region exacerbated fears that crop planting would be further delayed.
Other commodities were mixed: sugar had a weekly decline of 0.56% and settled at a price of $1.26 per pound on Friday; coffee was around $0.94 per pound at Friday’s close, down 3.89% for the week; and cocoa was down 1.73% for the week and closed Friday’s session at $2,159 per tonne.
The SummerHaven Dynamic Agriculture Index Total Return Index (SDAITR) was up 0.94% for the week, compared with the prior week’s decline of 2.19%.
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