Oil recovers some losses, but trade and supply worries dominate

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices steadied on Thursday, boosted by a rebound in U.S. equities, after earlier losses on fears about surging U.S. crude production and a weakening global economy. Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were down 14 cents to 61.19 a barrel by 2:04 p.m. EST (1904 GMT). U.S. crude futures CLc1 fell 32 cents to $52 a barrel. Earlier in the session, both benchmarks dropped about 2 percent. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in its monthly market report cut its forecast for the average demand for its crude in 2019 to 30.83 million barrels per day, down 910,000 bpd from the 2018 average.

OPEC, however, said it cut oil output sharply in December before a new accord to limit supply took effect, suggesting that producers have made a strong start to averting a glut in 2019 as a slowing economy curbs demand

Saudi Arabia led the cuts of 751,000 bpd in December, the biggest month-on-month drop in almost two years.

The group and its allies plan to meet on April 17-18 in Vienna to review the supply reduction deal that began in January.

U.S. crude output has climbed by 2.4 million bpd since January 2018 and stockpiles of crude and refined products have risen sharply, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed. [EIA/S]“Going forward, we should start getting a little better indication of Saudi production trends. I think that’s going to be supportive to the market,” Ritterbusch said. In response to the drop in price in the second half of last year, OPEC and non-members plan to cut production by a joint 1.2 million bpd this year. Oil is still about 20 percent above the lows reached in late December, but analysts said Brent has been trading in the low $60s and U.S. crude in the low $50s due to ongoing nervousness about relations between Washington and Beijing and China’s economic outlook. “Brent needs to move past $62 before we can talk about $65,” BNP Paribas head of commodities Harry Tchilingurian told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.