Oil Closes Above $41 After Brussels Attack, Forecast Supply Gain

Oil Market Driver: Supply, Demand, or Production Cost?
  • U.S. supplies rose 2.53 million barrels in Bloomberg survey
  • Libya is said to skip Doha oil-output freeze talks in April

Oil closed above $41 a barrel in New York after terrorist attacks in Brussels, amid forecasts that U.S. crude inventories climbed from an 86-year high.

Futures were little changed after earlier falling as much as 1.8 percent following explosions in a Brussels airport departure hall and a subway station. U.S. crude stockpiles are forecast to have risen last week, keeping supplies at the most since 1930. Oil gained Monday after OPEC Secretary General Abdalla El-Badri said that 15 or 16 nations will attend oil-output freeze talks on April 17 in Doha, Qatar.

“The oil market initially reacted to the Brussels attacks,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy. “The drop was short-lived. The market has a lot of support.”

Oil slumped to a 12-year low in February before rising on speculation that stronger demand and falling U.S. output will ease a global surplus. The drop in production outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and a decline in U.S. drilling show that the group’s strategy of letting the market rebalance itself is working, El-Badri said in Vienna Monday.

Inventory Projections

West Texas Intermediate for May delivery fell 7 cents to settle at $41.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures climbed as much as 0.9 percent.  Total volume traded was 13 percent above the 100-day average at 4:36 p.m. The April contract rose 1.2 percent to $39.91 on Monday, when it expired.

Futures retreated after the settlement when the American Petroleum Institute was said to report U.S. crude supplies rose 8.8 million barrels last week. WTI traded at $41.19 at 4:36 p.m.

Brent for May settlement rose 25 cents to $41.79 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude closed at a 34-cent premium to WTI.

U.S. crude supplies probably climbed 2.53 million barrels last week, according to the median of responses in a Bloomberg survey of analysts before the release of Energy Information Administration data on Wednesday. Stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the nation’s biggest oil-storage hub and the delivery point for WTI futures, are forecast to have climbed 335,000 barrels.

Gasoline inventories probably dropped 2.2 million barrels last week, the survey showed. Consumption of the motor fuel was 9.39 million barrels a day in the four weeks ended March 11, the highest seasonal level in at least a decade, according to EIA data.

"Crude has been getting strength from strong gasoline demand," Kilduff said. "Expectations are that tomorrow’s data will show another gasoline stock draw and strong demand."

Gasoline for April delivery advanced 2.6 percent to $1.4971, the highest close since August.

Saudi Arabia will join the meeting of producers from within and outside OPEC in Doha next month, adding weight to the campaign by financially stricken crude exporters to freeze output and overcome the glut that’s weighing on the market. Nigeria will attend while Libya will skip the meeting, according to a people familiar with the matter.

"The market continues to digest the news of the OPEC and other producers meeting in April," said Rob Haworth, a senior investment strategist in Seattle at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, which oversees $128 billion of assets.

Brazil won’t join the meeting, the energy ministry said Monday by e-mail. Argentina isn’t planning to send a delegation, Juan Jose Aranguren, the nation’s Energy & Mining Minister, said Monday in an e-mail.

Eni, Vitol and Petrobras:

  • Eni SpA, Italy’s largest energy producer, sees “some recovery” in the global oil market as demand increases and supply declines, according to Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi.
  • Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil trader, said it handled a record volume of 6 million barrels a day of crude and refined products last year as it benefited from a market that “favors” traders.
  • Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the oil producer at the center of Brazil’s largest corruption scandal, reported a record loss that surprised analysts and sent shares lower.
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