Crude Oil Lower Ahead Of Inflation


The report topped estimates last week, increasing confidence in the world's biggest economy, giving a boost to the outlook for energy demand and driving benchmark crude prices up 3.2 percent on Friday.

Investors are said to be weighing rising USA output (which continues to climb even though rig counts were cut slightly last week) and supply against the possibility that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers will maintain its supply cuts this year and possibly even next.

"Employment is the key driver of oil demand, as more people at work means more commutes and, in outcome, rising road fuel use", said Norbert Ruecker, head of commodity research at Julius Baer Zurich.

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Oil prices fell on Tuesday, extending falls from the previous day, as the relentless rise in U.S. crude output weighed on markets. Still, America is pumping record amounts of crude and forecasts for even more output are keeping prices below the highs of January.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $61.20 a barrel at 0122 GMT, down 16 cents, or 0.2 per cent, from their previous close. Total volume traded was about 23 percent below the 100-day average.

The US economy added the biggest number of jobs in more than 1-1/2 years in February, with non-farm payrolls jumping by 313,000 jobs last month, the Labour Department said on Friday.

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Broader markets were roiled by U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to go ahead with tariffs in imported steel and aluminum, sparking fears of a trade war.

It is not clear when the deal to withhold output will end, but Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said Opec could agree in June to begin easing current oil production curbs in 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The pessimistic view was echoed in money managers' short-selling position.

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CNBC noted that hedge funds and money managers have pared their bullish wagers on WTI, with long positions falling last week for the first time in three weeks; meanwhile, gross short positions (bets that prices will fall) on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed to their highest level in almost a month.