In an exciting turn of events, oil prices experienced a remarkable surge of over 2% on Friday. The catalysts behind this sudden uptick were the successful U.S. Congress resolution to pass a debt ceiling deal, thereby averting a potential government default in the world’s largest oil consumer. In addition to this, optimistic jobs data added fuel to the fire, raising hopes for a potential pause in Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.
The spotlight now shifts to an eagerly awaited meeting of OPEC and its allies scheduled for this weekend. Brent futures spearheaded the rally, gaining a substantial $1.85, equivalent to 2.5%, settling at $76.13 per barrel. Simultaneously, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude also witnessed a robust increase, surging by $1.64, or 2.3%, to reach $71.74.
Notably, these closing figures mark the highest levels since May 26 for WTI and May 29 for Brent. However, despite this momentous surge, both contracts did experience a modest dip of around 1% over the week, signifying their first weekly losses in the last three weeks.
Moreover, the surge in open interest in futures contracts, specifically for Brent reaching levels not seen since July 2021 and for WTI since March 2022, reflects the intense market activity and the growing anticipation surrounding the oil market.
The U.S. Senate’s approval of a bipartisan agreement to suspend the limit on the government debt ceiling, following the House of Representatives’ endorsement, averted a potential default scenario that could have severely disrupted global financial markets. On the other hand, the positive job market performance in the United States during May suggests that the U.S. Federal Reserve might reconsider implementing an interest rate hike this month for the first time in over a year, potentially spurring higher oil demand.
The impending June 4 meeting of OPEC+, the alliance comprising the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia, is poised to be a pivotal event. In April, this coalition took markets by surprise when they announced a significant production cut of 1.16 million barrels per day. Nonetheless, the subsequent price gains have been eroded, and crude prices currently linger below pre-cut levels. Recent reports indicate that OPEC+ is actively debating the possibility of implementing an additional oil production cut, highlighting the complexities of the current market dynamics.
Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at the prominent data and analytics firm OANDA, rightly emphasizes, “No one wants to be short crude going into a weekend OPEC+ meeting… Traders should never underestimate what the Saudis will do and leverage during OPEC+ meetings.” It’s essential to remember that Saudi Arabia is the leading producer within OPEC.
This marks the most substantial reduction since September 2021, leading to the fifth consecutive weekly decline in the overall count. These decisions by U.S. drillers stem from an 11% decline in U.S. crude prices and a significant 51% drop in natural gas futures since the beginning of the year, emphasizing the challenges faced by the industry.
As a reminder of the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, Tropical Storm Arlene has formed in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida. While it is expected to weaken in the coming days as it heads south toward Cuba, it is moving away from U.S. Gulf Coast oil and gas infrastructure, alleviating concerns of potential disruptions.
On the demand side, manufacturing data from China, the second-largest oil consumer globally, provides a mixed picture. China is currently grappling with early heatwaves that are anticipated to persist through June, putting considerable strain on power grids as residents in major cities like Shanghai and Shenzhen increasingly rely on air conditioners to beat the heat.