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Crude Oil News Today: Prices Tumble Amid Geopolitical Calm, Weak Demand

By:
James Hyerczyk
Updated: Apr 18, 2024, 12:40 GMT+00:00

Key Points:

  • Light Crude Oil Futures drop slightly in early trading.
  • Unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventories pressures prices.
  • Global oil demand remains below JP Morgan's forecasts.
Crude Oil News Today

In this article:

Multiple Factors Weigh

Crude oil prices have faced a complex array of influences this week, with geopolitical tensions and fluctuating demand painting a mixed picture for the market. As Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices fluctuate, a myriad of factors come into play, impacting both short-term valuations and longer-term market expectations.

At 09:01 GMT, Light Crude Oil Futures are trading $81.78, down $0.37 or -0.45%.

Geopolitical Tensions and Market Reactions

The recent reinstatement of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry was overshadowed by other global events that exerted a heavier influence on oil prices. Notably, the market’s reaction to potential conflict escalations between Israel and Iran has been surprisingly subdued.

Despite Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s firm stance on retaliating against Iran for recent aggressions, oil prices have not spiked as might be expected given Iran’s significant role in OPEC. This suggests that investors might be anticipating a controlled avoidance of escalated conflict, thereby limiting a surge in risk premium.

Adding to the bearish sentiment, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported an unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventories, with stocks reaching their highest level since June 2023. This increase, coupled with lower refinery utilization, has contributed to downward pressure on oil prices.

Moreover, global oil demand has been weaker than expected. JP Morgan’s recent update highlighted that demand has been running 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) below their forecast since April, with an annual increase much lower than anticipated.

Short-Term Forecast

In the immediate term, the oil market is likely to remain bearish. The combination of rising U.S. stockpiles, subdued global demand, and investor sentiment leaning towards the avoidance of Middle Eastern conflict suggests that oil prices may continue to struggle to find higher ground.

Furthermore, as U.S. gasoline and distillate inventories show diverging trends, the focus will increasingly shift to consumer demand patterns, especially with the upcoming U.S. summer driving season. However, any sudden geopolitical shifts or significant changes in inventory levels could swiftly alter this outlook. For now, traders should brace for potential volatility, with a leaning towards a bearish market scenario in the near term.

Technical Analysis

Daily Light Crude Oil Futures

The short-term trend is down. Based on the current downside momentum, Light Crude Oil Futures appear headed into a test of the 50-day moving average at $79.90. Look for a techical bounce on the first test of this level. If it fails then the selling pressure is likely to extend into the 200-day moving average at $77.96.

A trade through $79.90 will change the intermediate trend to down. A move through $77.96 will indicate a change in the long-term trend.

Recapturing $82.68 could trigger the start of a short-covering rally, but not necessarily a resumption of the uptrend.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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