Oil Futures Rise With Equities in Volatile Year-End Trading
(Bloomberg) -- Oil climbed with equities as traders resumed buying risk assets following a two-day rout.
Futures in New York closed up 3.7%, trading around $71 a barrel. Crude rallied as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he doesn’t plan to impose new restrictions on activities before Christmas. Volatility has surged as the market tries to assess the severity of the new strain’s impact, with price moves amplified by low end-of-year trading volumes.
“Folks are booking their profits or end-of-year losses and just waiting for the restart after the new year,” said John Kilduff, founding partner at Again Capital LLC.
Crude’s daily gains come against the backdrop of surging gas and power prices in Europe, with France even burning fuel oil in a bid to keep the lights on. Earlier this year, the oil market got a boost from expectations that there would be a major switch in power consumption toward crude and petroleum products.
Still, oil’s yearlong rally has faltered this quarter, due in part to the emergence of the new Covid-19 strain ahead of winter. The oil market structure is flashing bearish signs, indicating near-term oversupply, which may prompt OPEC+ to act when the group meets next month.
So far, omicron hasn’t dented oil demand in the U.S., which can be seen in the relative strength of physical markets. Sweet shale crudes this week reached the largest premiums against Nymex oil futures in nearly a year. The gains are driven by U.S. refiners buying supplies to meet increased domestic fuel demand.
The new virus variant is spreading quickly and accounted for 73% of all Covid-19 infections in the U.S. last week, but city traffic in Europe held up over that same period, pointing to limited impact so far on oil consumption despite new restrictions. President Joe Biden will send 500 million free coronavirus tests to Americans’ homes beginning next month and dispatch the military to shore up overwhelmed hospitals.
See also: Chinese Road Congestion Falls to Lowest in Four Weeks: BNEF
Meanwhile, the head of Libya’s election commission closed the election committees ahead of Friday’s presidential ballot, adding doubts that the landmark vote will take place as scheduled. The OPEC member country also suspended crude exports from two ports after militias shut down the country’s biggest field days before the election.
The American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 3.67 million barrels last week, according to people familiar with the data. However, inventories at the storage hub of Cushing, as well as stocks of gasoline, rose. The U.S. government will release its weekly inventory tally on Wednesday.
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