(Reuters) - Goldman Sachs said it expects global oil demand growth to remain strong this year and contribute to further declines in oil inventories.
"We believe that the combination of strong developed markets momentum and accelerating emerging markets growth will combine to keep oil demand growth above consensus expectations, with our 2018 year on year forecast at 1.85 million barrels per day (mb/d)," Goldman said in a note dated Thursday.
Global oil demand in 2018 has come in line with its optimistic expectations, with the first quarter likely to post the strongest year on year growth since fourth quarter 2010 at 2.55 mb/d, the bank said.
"While global oil data for Jan/Feb supports our constructive demand outlook for the year, we expect March data will show weaker demand growth given transient headwinds."
Seasonal distortions and unusually cold temperatures could have resulted in softer March data, the bank said, adding that was likely just a transient weakness as strong refinery margins supported its view of robust demand in April.
Goldman, however, said volatile Chinese data, slowdown in global demand growth in March, ongoing trade tensions and fears that higher oil prices will start to weigh on demand growth have led to increased concern about the sustainability of demand strength.
(Reporting by Apeksha Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)