Oil prices steady but supported by Iran concerns

An oil pump is seen at sunset outside Vaudoy-en-Brie

Futures in NY are up 3.9 per cent this month, even after a near 1 per cent drop on Monday following data that showed an increase in USA drilling activity.

A top adviser to Iran's supreme leader said on Thursday Tehran would not accept any change to its nuclear deal, as Western signatories prepare a new package in the hope of persuading U.S. President Donald Trump to stick with the accord. Meanwhile, Opec's trimming output even after concluding it's cleared 97% of the surplus that's weighed on prices.

On the economic front, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said growth in the region averaged 2.7 percent a year ago, its highest level since 2007.

In conclusion, Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of S3 Partners and the author of the note, said that short-selling activity is clearly moving in tandem with the oil price. The Trump administration has said it will withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal next month if it can not reach an agreement with European partners to toughen the terms of the accord. Other than that it's the demand picture around the globe, and if that continues we could see higher prices.”.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for June delivery traded at $67.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 62 cents, at 8.23am in London. The contract fell 0.4 per cent last week.

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Benchmark Brent crude was down 1.03 per cent to $73.87 a barrel while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were almost one per cent lower at $67.46 a barrel. It is notable that Brent crude oil was trading at over $100 a barrel in 2013, compared to its current price of $75. Prices for the more actively traded Brent July contact gained 90 cents to settle at $74.69. Rising demand has also been helpful.

“The increase in rigs is modestly bearish for oil prices because increasing rigs is usually associated with increasing supply, ” Bill O'Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management said in an email.

The U.S. oil rig count rose by 5 rigs to 825, the highest since March 2015, according to Baker Hughes data released on Friday. The rig fleet has expanded throughout the entire month of April, adding a total of 28.

OPEC and its partners agreed to cut oil output by 1.8 million barrels per day since January past year, an effort which has recorded a 149 percent success, and has boosted prices to $74 per barrel as at Thursday. Aside from these, hedge funds have also reduced their net-long position in WTI. Crude oil inventories rose (+2.2m vs. -2.4m expected). "Since the market is already tight because of the high production outages in Venezuela and the production cuts implemented by OPEC and Russian Federation, any further reduction of supply weighs all the more heavily", the bank said.

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