Crude oil starts week lower, continuing pause after 2019 high

Economic Slowdown Pushes Down Oil Prices

Brent closed down 0.2 per cent on Wednesday.

The price of global benchmark Brent crude has risen about 25 percent in 2019, supported by supply curbs by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus allies, and involuntary losses due to US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.

Oil prices rose on Friday, pushed up by ongoing supply cuts led by producer club OPEC and US sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, putting the crude markets on pace to post their biggest first quarter gain since 2009.

US West Texas Intermediate futures were at $58.52 a barrel, down 52c or 0.9% from their previous settlement. The drop in production has led to a tightening of oil inventories.

"Oil supply fundamentals remain price-constructive with OPEC+ collectively making good progress on pledged supply cuts", BNP Paribas strategist Harry Tchilinguirian told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.

Today's message to OPEC cited the world's fragile markets and the high price of oil.

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The surge in imports came as the OPEC kingpin producer boosted its share of the Asia market, signing new 2019 term supply contracts with Chinese refiners including Sinochem-Hengli and Rongsheng among others, said Mark Tay, senior analyst for crude oil with Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodities Research, in a note.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $67.63 a barrel at 0045 GMT, down 20 cents, or 0.3 per cent, from their last close.

Wednesday's weakness suggests growing fears over the impact of a global economic slowdown on demand.

USA crude futures' gains were sharper, rising $1.12, or 1.9 percent, to $59.94 a barrel, ahead of government inventory data.

"If that goes lower, that implies you don't need as much gasoline", Yawger said."That implies you don't need as much crude oil to make gasoline and that just sends the whole chain of command on a downward spiral".

FILE PHOTO: Oil pours out of a spout from Edwin Drake's original 1859 well that launched the modern petroleum industry at the Drake Well Museum and Park in Titusville, Pennsylvania U.S., October 5, 2017.

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