By Florence Tan
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices inched higher on Monday, buoyed by forecasts of a widening supply deficit in the fourth quarter after Saudi Arabia and Russia extended cuts and on optimism of a demand recovery in China, the world’s top crude importer.
Brent crude futures rose 5 cents, or 0.1%, to $93.98 a barrel by 0027 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $90.92 a barrel, up 15 cents, or 0.2%.
“China’s stimulus policy, resilient U.S. economic data, and OPEC+’s ongoing output cuts are the bullish factors that support the oil market’s upside movement,” CMC Markets analyst Tina Teng said, referring to a reserve ratio cut by China’s central bank last week to boost liquidity and support its economy.
Brent and WTI have climbed for three consecutive weeks to touch their highest levels since November after Saudi Arabia and Russia extended supply cuts to the end of the year as part of the OPEC+ group’s plans and as Chinese refineries ramped up output, driven by strong export margins.
Both contracts are also on track for their biggest quarterly increase since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the first quarter of 2022.
“Production cuts, led by Saudi Arabia, stabilised the market in July but are now likely to push the market into a 2 million bpd (barrels per day) deficit in Q4,” ANZ analysts said in a note.
Global oil demand growth, on the other hand, is on track to hit 2.1 million bpd, they added, in line with forecasts from the International Energy Agency and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
“The subsequent drawdown in inventories in Q4 leaves the market exposed to further price spikes in 2024,” ANZ said.
Traders will be watching decisions by central banks, including the Federal Reserve, this week on interest rate policies.
“The Fed is expected to pause rate hikes this time but is likely to stay hawkish,” CMC’s Teng said.
A pause in U.S. rate hikes could weaken the greenback which makes dollar-denominated commodities such as oil more affordable for holders of other currencies.
(Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Stephen Coates)