Oil steady as economic worries offset signs of firmer demand

Oil Rises Above $30 as Deep Production Cuts Rebalance Market

The July contract, trading at vastly higher volumes, settled up US$31.96 a barrel.

At the same time, the price of July futures for worldwide crude oil benchmark Brent crude rose 0.12 percent to $32.89 per barrel.

US West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 was up $0.7, or 2.2%, at $32.52 a barrel.

Oil prices have mainly risen during the past three weeks, with both benchmarks climbing above US$30 for the first time in more than a month on Monday, supported by massive output cuts by major oil producing countries and signs of improving demand. Mohammad Barkindo, the secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said in a Bloomberg Television interview that the outlook for the market in the second half of the year was looking more encouraging as the global economy recovers. The low price reached $29.55.

In another sign of efforts to re-open economy, the US auto industry slowly returned to life on Monday, with some vehicle assembly plants reopening after the coronavirus lockdown while suppliers geared up to support a sector that employs almost 1 million people.

WTI for June delivery, which expires Tuesday, rose $2.39 to settle at $31.82 in NY.

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Official data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due later on Wednesday.

At the same time, OPEC+ oil shipments have seen a "stunning reversal" in May, according to market intelligence company Kpler.

"Optimism is being expressed across all markets, not just oil but base metals are rallying and we're seeing good support from equity markets", said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets Asia Pacific.

U.S. crude futures plummeted to as low as -$40 towards the expiry of the May contract last month, as storage capacity at the benchmark's physical delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma neared saturation.

But weak crude refining profits persist, which could delay a recovery in oil demand.

Meanwhile, Reuters quoted some sources citing that the Russian oil and gas condensate output stood at 9.42 million barrel per day (bpd) in first 19 days of May vs. 11.35 million bpd seen in April on an average. The overall number would be higher were it not for jet-fuel demand, which is still running well below a year-earlier level, they said.

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