Oil up as Bulls Starry-Eyed Over Record U.S. Exports That May be Fleeting

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  • Commodities News
Oil up as Bulls Starry-Eyed Over Record U.S. Exports That May be Fleeting
Credit: © Reuters.

By Barani Krishnan

Investing.com -- Oil bulls starry-eyed over last week’s record U.S. crude exports pushed the commodity’s prices up sharply again on Thursday as headline economic numbers for the third quarter also suggested America was doing better than thought.

A three-day run-up in oil now puts London’s Brent and New York’s West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, crude benchmarks up between 2% and 5% for the week. 

In Thursday's trading itself, Brent crude , the global benchmark for oil, settled up $1.27, or 1.3%, at $96.96 per barrel for its December delivery contract, extending Wednesday’s 2% rally.

WTI , the benchmark for U.S. crude, settled up $1.17, or 1.3%, at $89.08 a barrel for its December contract, extending the previous session’s gain of 3%.

But the swings in oil of late — that saw WTI jump 16% at the start of October, only to give back 7% the following week — were a caution that the volatility in crude prices was far from over.

Those familiar with the history of U.S. crude exports also point to instances where the numbers are exceedingly high in one week and surprisingly low in subsequent ones.

“I have read a lot of headlines on record exports of crude last week in the U.S. and quite frankly don’t believe it,” Scott Shelton, an energy futures broker at ICAP in Durham, North Carolina, said, referring to the shipment of 5.129 million barrels per day reported by the Energy Information Administration, or EIA, for the week ended Oct. 21.

Shelton, who typically makes positive comments on oil, said he was more convinced that last week’s exports were at around 4 million barrels per day.

“I assume a correction is coming,” Shelton said, referring to the EIA report for the current week to Oct. 28, which is due Nov. 2. “As for November exports expectations...they are significantly less than October as Europe has taken less barrels as can be seen by the cash markets’ weakness, which should cut exports by about 25% from October in my view — though a late surge can always come.”

Similarly, there were troubles with the U.S. economy despite its forecast-beating growth for the third quarter, said Ed Moya, analyst at online trading platform OANDA.

The U.S. economy turned positive for the first time in 2022 with a growth of 2.6% in the third quarter, after two prior quarters in the negative, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday. Economists had forecast a growth of 2.4% for the latest quarter. Oil prices are often closely aligned with the economy.

“The strong headline number is welcome news, but when you dig into the numbers it is clear that an economic slowdown is here,” said Moya, referring to the third quarter growth number. “The international trade component helped this quarter and that obviously won’t continue going forward. Consumer spending is softening and prices are coming down quickly. Business investment is clearly weakening.”   

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