Skip to main content

Oil prices have rebounded, with the benchmark Brent crude rising back to $73 per barrel

Janesmith

2024-01-09

This resurgence comes as Russia, one of the world’s leading oil producers, signals compliance with the agreed upon production cuts. These cuts, orchestrated by OPEC+, aim to stabilize the global oil market amidst volatile demand due to the ongoing pandemic. The commitment from Russia to adhere to these reductions has been a significant driver in bolstering confidence among traders and consequently, fortifying oil prices.

Understanding the Oil Price Surge

The resurgence of oil prices to $73 is a textbook example of how geopolitical maneuvers can steer market dynamics. While it’s tempting to view this as a reaction to a singular event, a vast array of catalysts coalesce to move the needle on oil prices.

Russia’s compliance with production cuts is merely one cog in the colossal machine that is the global oil market. Behind this compliance lie many other significant drivers, such as regional conflicts, supply and demand imbalances, currency fluctuations, and even climate policies.

Current Trading Scenario: Oil Trades Near $72

Oil is currently trading near $72, after briefly hitting a high of $72.90 on Tuesday, bouncing off from Monday’s low, which was close to $70. This fluctuation follows Saudi Arabia’s decision to lower prices of its oil exports into Asia.

Interestingly, analysts and fund managers are interpreting this decline in oil prices as a positive sign. They believe it will further depress inflation, providing much-needed economic breathing room.

Drawing reference from the “Goldilocks” economic scenario, where conditions are not too hot (high inflation) or too cold (recession), but just right for economic growth, the current decline in oil prices is seen as a precursor to an economic boon. As inflation eases, the demand for oil is expected to pick up, potentially leading to a favorable market environment.

Dollar Index and Global Equities: A Snapshot

The DXY US Dollar Index, a measure of the value of the United States dollar relative to a basket of foreign currencies, is maintaining its position at 102.00, notwithstanding some selling pressure experienced overnight. Mirroring this resilient trend, equity markets in the United States and Japan have made significant strides, embodying a prevailing ‘risk-on’ sentiment among traders. The Nikkei, Japan’s premier stock index, has even reached a new peak, the highest in 34 years.

Ignoring the Elephant in the Room: Geopolitical Tensions

Despite the escalating geopolitical undercurrents, traders seem to be turning a blind eye. Over the weekend, elections took place in Taiwan, adding to the volatility of the region’s political landscape. Further, tensions in the Middle East refuse to subside. This is evidenced by Israel’s recent claim of discovering Chinese weaponry in the hands of Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based Shiite group. Nonetheless, global markets continue their bullish run, seemingly undeterred by the prevailing geopolitical unrest.

Oil Production Cuts and Rumors Impacting Trade

The recent oil market dynamics reveal that Russia, a major player in global oil production, is adhering to the cutbacks agreed upon at the latest OPEC+ meeting. This, coupled with the news of Saudi Arabia offering significant discounts, has sparked fluctuation in oil prices.

Interestingly, oil prices also reacted to circulating rumors that shipping freight companies paid fees to Houthi rebels for safe passage in the Red Sea region. However, these rumors were swiftly debunked by several shipping companies, quelling potential market unrest.

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, landed in Tel Aviv on Monday to discuss the current situation with Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The discussions focused on outlining an international task force dedicated to monitoring the Red Sea passage against potential threats.

The recent dip in oil prices has led to an anticipation of a decline in the US Consumer Price Index (CPI) set to be released on Thursday. The lower prices could potentially stimulate a surge in demand, resuscitating several oil-dependent projects that have been on hold.

The American Petroleum Institute is set to release its weekly stockpile change data on Tuesday. In the previous week, there was a staggering drawdown of $7.418 million barrels. As it stands, there are no forecasts available for this week’s figures, adding yet another layer of suspense in the already volatile oil market.

Market Adaptation to Aramco’s Discounts and Potential Buyers’ Return

Markets are quickly adapting to Aramco’s discounts, providing an apparent floor to the turbulent oil prices. These substantial discounts are attracting the attention of several buyers who had earlier shied away from the market due to excessively high prices. The lower price point now presents an attractive opportunity for buyers to reenter the market, thereby generating renewed demand for oil.

In addition to the attractive pricing, a Goldilocks tone in global markets, characterized by not too high (inflation) and not too low (recession) economic conditions, is likely to spur renewed demand for oil. The current market conditions strike a healthy balance that is conducive to steady economic growth and a solid demand base for oil.

Furthermore, the onset of frost temperatures in Europe signals an upcoming surge in demand for energy commodities. As the need for heating increases during the cold period, the demand for oil and other energy commodities naturally sees an uptick. This seasonal change adds another positive dimension to the demand outlook, bolstering the anticipation of a more stable and possibly bullish oil market in the near future.

Oil Price Predictions:

On the upside, the $74 threshold continues to be a crucial level, albeit with significant volatility. A sustained move above this level brings the $80 level into the picture. If oil can maintain several daily closes above the $80 mark, the next significant topside target is at the $84 level.

On the downside, if the price falls below $74, the $67 level becomes the next potential support to focus on. This aligns with a triple bottom pattern formed in June. Should this triple bottom fail to hold, we could be in for a fresh low in 2023, with a possible target at $64.35 – the lows of May and March – acting as the last barrier.

While it is a distant prospect at this point, it is worth keeping an eye on the $57.45 level. A sharp decline in oil prices could bring this level into play as another potential support zone.

Geopolitical tensions often have a significant impact on oil prices due to the potential disruption of supply chains and the uncertainty it brings to the energy markets. For example, the Taiwan elections and escalating Middle Eastern tensions noted in the document can increase market volatility and risk premiums, manifesting in erratic oil price movements.

In regions where oil production is prominent, such as the Middle East, geopolitical unrest can lead to a decrease in oil output as safety concerns and operational disruptions rise. This reduction in supply can cause a surge in oil prices as demand remains constant.

Conversely, traders’ disregard for geopolitical undercurrents, as mentioned in the document, can also influence oil prices. Their focus on ‘risk-on’ investments may lead to increased speculative trading in oil, potentially driving prices higher.