U.S. crude oil prices moved up about 2% Friday to trade above $38.50 on news that output is on the decline.
But while this marks the commodity’s fourth week of gains, some equity analysts say “hold on,” since there could be more turbulence head.
Market watchers and investors, of course, are asking if the bad days are now behind the commodity.
According to the International Energy Agency, oil output in the U.S. and non-OPEC nations is showing signs of rapid drop. At the same time, increasing supplies from Iran are not as large as expected.
Thus, the IEA says non-OPEC output should fall by 750,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2016, up from the prior forecast of a 600,000 bpd decline.
Plus, the latest data from Baker Hughes, released Friday, indicates that the number of total active U.S. oil rigs dropped by nine to 480, a record low. The earlier record-low rig count was 488 as of April 23, 1999.
In addition, the number of active U.S. oil-drilling rigs fell for the 12th week in a row, moving down to 386 from 392, the oil-field services company says.
Oil prices have “recovered remarkably” in recent weeks, the IEA states in Friday’s report, though that cannot “be taken as a definitive sign that the worst is necessarily over.”
“Even so, there are signs that prices might have bottomed out,” the Paris-based group stated in Friday’s report. “For prices there may be light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel, but we cannot be precisely sure when in 2017 the oil market will achieve the much-desired balance.”
The organization seems to be hedging its bets.
“It is clear that the current direction of travel is the correct one, although with a long way to go,” it added. “Without an increase in demand expectations, high-cost oil suppliers will continue to bear the brunt of the market-clearing process.”
For its part, Goldman Sachs is keeping its bearish view.
In a note to clients, the investment bank says that prices could move down sharply in coming weeks due to record U.S. inventory levels, which are likely to offset production declines.
Goldman’s projection is that Brent crude averages about $39 per barrel this year. That’s down from its earlier forecast of $45.
However, the investment bank still sees oil’s potential range in the second quarter as being a $25-$45 – with its target being $35 for Q2’16. But that target moves up to $40 in the last two quarters of the year.
Oil production has started flowing from Iraq’s Kurdistan region, for instance, however. And the IEA expects global oil and product stockpiles to rise sharply through June, in the range of 1.5 million to 1.9 million bpd, but then slow to 0.2 million bpd in the second half.
Overall, though, the agency is bullish: “There are clear signs that market forces … are working their magic and higher-cost producers are cutting output,” it said.
“Of course, there is no guarantee that this trend will continue, but there are clear signs that market forces – ahead of any production restraint initiative – are working their magic and higher cost producers are cutting output,” the IEA noted.
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