The oil market is mixed this morning as it continues to look for direction and weighs the same news items of the past few months. Those issues continue to be OPEC cuts, U.S. / China trade dispute, concern over a global economic slowdown and increasing U.S. crude production.
The U.S. and China conclude their two-day trade talks in Beijing today with President Trump tweeting this morning “Talks with China are going very well!” This tweet and word that China had their top trade official, Liu He, attend the talks early this week have boosted equity and oil markets along with it as February WTI trades higher today to $49.42/barrel despite growing U.S. oil production.
Oil prices rose by more than 1 percent on Monday, lifted by optimism that talks could soon resolve the trade war between the United States and China, while supply cuts by major producers also supported the market.
Yesterday, the United States and Mexico settled on new concessions that will make changes to the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The hope is to improve upon the U.S. $69-billion trade deficit with Mexico.
On Saturday OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to raise production by 1 million barrels per day (bpd). Perhaps more important than that, they agreed to return to 100% compliance of the previously agreed upon production cuts of 1.8 million bpd. Production was lagging from struggling countries, i.e., Venezuela, Angola and Libya which effectively equated to a production cut of 2.8 million bpd. Most notably, Reuters reports that Venezuela has been pumping more than 500,000 bpd less than its target. So, let’s clear up the math. OPEC and its non-OPEC partners are effectively saying they are going to be ramping up production by 2 million bpd, 1 million to make up for lost compliance and 1 million in additional capacity. How are the markets reacting? The Brent-WTI spread is getting slammed.