Oil rises as Saudi says it is comfortable with higher prices

Technical chart showing the performance of crude oil prices

USA crude stocks increased by 1.2 million barrels according to the American Petroleum Institute (API), sharply reversing the market forecast of -2.7 million barrels, raising prospects for a widening premium in the Brent versus WTI with crude runs worsening in Europe and Asia.

US oil futures rose more than $1 a barrel on Wednesday, bolstered by a fifth weekly crude inventory drawdown and strong domestic gasoline demand, amid ongoing supply concerns over USA sanctions on Iran that come into force in November. On Tuesday, the global oil benchmark rose 1.3 per cent on a media report that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, was comfortable with prices above $80, indicating the producer would not try to increase output to drive prices lower.

Brent crude futures had dropped 29 cents, or 0.37 percent, to $77.76 per barrel by 12.02pm.

Oil markets fell on Tuesday as the latest escalation in the Sino-US trade war clouded the outlook for crude demand from the two countries, which are the world's top two oil consumers.

"It may also suggest they don't have the ability to make up for the losses that are already stemming from impending US sanctions on Iran".

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch has said that ahead of the USA crude sanctions against Iran in November, the oil producer has decreased its export loadings by 580,000 barrels per day in the past three months.

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The focus on oil supply has been reflected in the options market this week, where investors have scooped up large amounts of bullish buy, or call, options.

In a move heavily opposed by Iran, OPEC and other oil producers including Russian Federation agreed in June to boost crude output by around a million barrels a day, reversing course after supply cuts that had cleared a global glut and boosted prices. But it is unclear how easily other producers can compensate for any lost supply.

"(Traders took the Saudi comments) as a sign that they (Saudi Arabia) won't be aggressively responding to the rise in prices with supply increases of its own", ANZ bank said in a note on Wednesday.

US crude inventories fell 2.1 million barrels last week to 394.1 million barrels, the lowest level since February 2015, government data showed.

US stock indexes broadly fell yesterday, weighing on oil futures, on expectations that Trump would go ahead with the new tariffs and that Beijing would retaliate.

USA stock indexes broadly fell on Monday, weighing on oil futures, on expectations that the Trump administration would go ahead with the new tariffs and that Beijing would retaliate.

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