NEW YORK: Oil prices rose on Tuesday, on track to close at a two-week high, on optimism the US Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this week for the first time in more than 10 years, boosting demand expectations in the world’s biggest oil user.
Meanwhile, ahead of weekly data, crude oil inventories in the United States were also forecast to have dropped for a seventh straight week.
Analysts also noted the market was up on optimism over US-China trade talks, which could boost oil demand around the world.
On its second to last day as the front-month Brent futures for September delivery were up $1.27, or 2.0%, at $64.98 a barrel by 2:22 p.m. EDT (1822 GMT), while US West Texas Intermediate crude was up $1.40, or 2.5%, to $58.27.
That put both contracts on track to rise for a fourth day in a row to what would be their highest closes since July 15.
“WTI spiked in late trade after passing through $57.50 a barrel, which was a psychological resistance, and $57.64, which was a recent trading high,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst with Price Futures Group in Chicago.
For the month, however, both contracts were still set to decline due to lingering worries about oil demand with Brent down over 2% and WTI down almost 1%.
“Crude oil moved higher today partly due to anticipation of another meaningful inventory draw this week along with tensions that remain escalated in the Strait of Hormuz,” said Brian Kessens, senior portfolio manager at energy investment manager Tortoise, noting “the prospect of lower rates and US-China trade talks are buoying economic prospects.”
US central bankers will begin their two-day meeting later on Tuesday and were expected to lower borrowing costs for the first time since the depths of the financial crisis more than a decade ago.
“Regarding the Fed, the market has priced in a 25 basis point cut for Wednesday,” Harry Tchilinguirian, global oil strategist at BNP Paribas in London, told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.
US President Donald Trump called on the Federal Reserve to make a large interest rate cut, saying he was disappointed in the central bank and that it had put him at a disadvantage by not acting sooner.
Economic growth in the United States slowed less than expected in the second quarter, strengthening the outlook for oil consumption but, elsewhere, disappointing economic data has increased concerns about slower growth.
Other analysts said prices were up this week due to technical issues and expectations of bullish US storage reports.
“We believe this week’s price advance is attributable to … some renewed algorithmic related buying … associated with some positive technical signals,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates, noting the oil complex also appears to be pricing in a bullish US inventory report.
US crude stockpiles were forecast to have dropped by 2.6 million barrels last week, according to analysts in a Reuters poll. The American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, is due to release its inventory report at 4:30 p.m. EDT, followed by government data on Wednesday morning.
If correct, that would put crude stocks down for a seventh week in a row for the first time since they fell for a record 10 weeks in a row in January 2018, according to Refinitiv data going back to 1982. Total crude stockpiles, however, would still be about 3% over the five-year (2014-2018) for this time of year.
US and Chinese negotiators also meet this week for their first in-person talks since agreeing to a truce to their trade dispute at a Group of 20 meeting last month.
However, expectations for progress during the two-day Shanghai meeting are low, so officials and businesses hope Washington and Beijing can at least detail commitments for “goodwill” gestures and clear the path for future negotiations.
Trump warned China against waiting out his first term in office to finalize any trade deal, saying if he wins re-election in the November 2020 US presidential contest, the outcome could be no agreement or a worse one.
Supply risks are still a concern as tensions remained high around the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes.
BP Plc has not taken any of its own oil tankers through the strait since a July 10 attempt by Iran to seize one of its vessels, its chief financial officer said.
Meanwhile, the United States has formally asked Germany to join France and Britain in a mission to secure the Strait of Hormuz and to combat Iranian aggression, the US Embassy in Berlin said.