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Oil Price Fundamental Weekly Forecast – COVID-19 Worries, Vaccine Issues Weighing on Sentiment

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James Hyerczyk
·3 min read
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Three weeks of sideways trading and an inside move last week suggests investor indecision and impending volatility.

While events surrounding COVID-19 are primarily controlling the price action, last week, traders were introduced to other variables such as the strength of the U.S. Dollar, which weighed on foreign demand and a battle between small speculators and goliath hedge funds in the stock market, which could force the latter to liquidate their long crude positions.

Traders seemed to shrug off the EIA data, which represents the past, while looking at the future. Furthermore, crude inventories dropped sharply, but gasoline stockpiles rose.

Demand in Europe and Asia is especially being monitored as contagious variants of the coronavirus drive a rise in COVID-19 infections and a slower rollout of vaccines in Europe and travel curbs in China are expected to limit fuel consumption.

We could see some short-term weakness, but bullish traders seem to be convinced that the OPEC+ production cuts are likely to continue to provide longer-term support.

A short-term correction would probably be welcomed by those who missed the rally, which began in October.

Last week, March WTI crude oil futures settled at $52.20, down $0.07 or -0.13% and April Brent crude oil finished at $55.04, down $0.21 or -0.38%.

US Energy Information Administration Weekly Inventories Report

According to the EIA, U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell by nearly 10 million barrels the week-ending January 22 to their lowest since March 2020.

U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 2.5 million barrels to 247.7 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with expectations for a 1.8 million-barrel rise.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 815,000 barrels in the week, versus expectations for a 361,000-barrel drop.

US Oil and Gas Rig Count Rises in January for Sixth Month:  Baker Hughes

U.S. energy firms last week added oil and natural gas rigs for a tenth week in a row, with the rig count up in January for a sixth straight month, as monthly oil production rebounds amid rising prices.

The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose six to 384 in the week to January 29, its highest since May, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said in its closely followed report on Friday.

The 10-weeks of gain is the longest streak of increases since June 2018.

Despite gains in recent months, that count is still 406 rigs, or 51%, below this time last year. The total count, however, has soared since hitting a record low of 244 in August, according to Baker Hughes data going back to 1940.

The big count was up for a sixth month in a row, gaining 33 in January, the biggest rise since October.

Weekly Forecast

WTI and Brent crude oil prices could drift around current levels this week on concerns over a slow recovery caused by unexpected issues with the vaccine rollouts. However, once these issues are overcome, the recovery should begin to gain traction into end-2021.

An uptick in economic and travel activity fueled by COVID-19 vaccines could accelerate in the second half, a Reuters surveyed showed, but the recovery will take time.

The emergence of new virus strains, renewed lockdowns and logistical hurdles facing vaccine roll-outs also prompted the International Energy Agency to lower its 2021 demand outlook.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire

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