Oil prices firms after two days of losses; eyes on Trump address

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Oil futures ended higher on Wednesday after weekly USA government data revealed smaller-than-expected increases in domestic crude and gasoline supplies, but concerns surrounding a potential slowdown in global energy demand limited the gain for prices.

The global economic outlook and prospects for growth in fuel demand have been clouded by poor economic data in China and U.S.

National Security Adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announce sanctions against Venezuela state-owned oil company PDVSA and embattled president Nicolas Maduro.

However, Venezuela's woes assuaged traders' mounting fears to a degree, with the US sanctions limiting oil transactions between the Bolivian republic and other countries, and the European Union considering imposing more sanctions on the government of president Nicolas Maduro.

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Crude futures fell earlier after an industry report suggested a larger rise in crude inventories, while concerns about the impact on global supplies of us sanctions on Venezuela faded. “The political crisis in Venezuela was part of the reason prices were rising in previous weeks, but this seems to have been priced in by now, ” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at Forex.com.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and 10 partner producers outside the cartel agreed late past year to hold back crude output by 1.2 million barrels a day for the first half of 2019, in an effort to soak up that global supply glut and rebalance the market.

Meanwhile, oil supply from the OPEC fell in January by the largest amount in two years, a Reuters survey found.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address that a trade deal was possible with China.

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Fritsch of Commerzbank said the Venezuelan issue could still drive oil higher.

Traders are still anxious about the global economic slowdown especially because of the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. OPEC, excluding Iran, Libya and Venezuela, agreed to handle 800,000 barrels a day of those cuts.

The producers known as OPEC+ started cutting production by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from last month to avert a new supply glut, and OPEC has delivered nearly three-quarters of its pledged cuts already, a Reuters survey showed last week.

"The price has yet to react in any noticeable way", he said. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.

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