Fed cuts ahead bolstering oil prices

Initially, Brent Crude experienced a decline yesterday following the release of US crude inventories data. However, nationwide US crude inventories, excluding those held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), saw a decline for the second consecutive week, remaining below the five-year seasonal average. Additionally, there was a larger-than-expected decline in gasoline holdings. While the overall draw presents a bullish narrative, it required some support from yesterday’s Federal Reserve announcement to trend in a positive direction.

Ole R. Hvalbye,
Analyst Commodities, SEB

The Brent Crude front-month contract strengthened before yesterday’s close and has continued this positive momentum into today, currently trading at USD 86.5 per barrel. This reflects an increase of roughly USD 1 per barrel (1%) compared to yesterday evening’s low point.

The Federal Reserve signaled its intention to adhere to its outlook for three rate cuts this year, boosting both risk appetite and weakening the US dollar, which has benefited global crude prices.

In our analysis, global crude prices are currently supported by strong fundamentals. Demand growth remains robust, complemented by significant production cuts by OPEC+ and subdued output from US shale oil producers. Consequently, the global oil market is operating at a slight deficit, resulting in a gradual depletion of oil inventories, as evidenced by the recent declines in US crude and product inventories (further details below). This trend is expected to provide support for oil prices and potentially drive them sideways to upwards, with limited downside risks.

However, it’s important to note that while fundamentals appear promising and the oil market has found some reassurance in yesterday’s Federal Reserve announcement, expectations for enduring inflation may act as a headwind for oil prices over the longer term, potentially capping a significant oil price rally.

As a reminder, our assumptions for Brent oil prices have remained firm since September 2023. We anticipate Brent Crude to average USD 85/bl and USD 87.5/bl for 2024 and 2025, respectively, with projections of USD 90/bl for 2026 and 2027.

Yet another week of drawdown in US inventories. Commercial crude oil inventories in the U.S., excluding those held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 2.0 million barrels from the previous week, reaching a total of 445.0 million barrels. This figure is approximately 3% below the five-year average for this time of year.

Total motor gasoline inventories saw a significant decline of 3.3 million barrels from the previous week, now standing approximately 2% below the five-year average. However, distillate fuel inventories experienced a marginal increase of 0.6 million barrels, remaining roughly 5% below the five-year average. Meanwhile, propane/propylene inventories rose by 0.4 million barrels, reaching a notable 9% above the five-year average.

Overall commercial petroleum inventories witnessed a decrease of 6.1 million barrels last week. Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged 20.1 million barrels per day, indicating a 2.2% increase from the same period last year.

Motor gasoline product supplied averaged 8.8 million barrels per day over the past four weeks, showing a marginal increase of 0.3% from the same period last year. Conversely, distillate fuel product supplied averaged 3.7 million barrels per day, down by 1.9% from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied experienced a slight decrease of 0.2% compared to the same four-week period last year.

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