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Oil ends lower Tuesday in wake of U.S. reprieve from Iran sanctions for major consumer

By Mayra P. Saefong

Petroleumworld 11 06 2018

Oil declined Tuesday, sending benchmark U.S. crude futures down for a seventh consecutive session — the longest losing streak in nearly 20 months.

The losses came a day after the Trump administration granted waivers to allow eight nations to continue buying Iranian crude despite U.S.-driven economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

News reports said President Donald Trump on Monday told reporters that he wants to “go a little bit slower” when it comes to sanctions on Iranian oil because he doesn't walk to drive up oil prices. That also helped to ease worries about tighter global supplies.

The roller coaster for the oil market “has decelerated not halted, as U.S. grants waivers to eight jurisdictions with some amount of obscurity to continue importing oil from Iran,” said Ashray Ohri, an analyst at ICICI Bank, in a Tuesday note.

At the same time, however, the Joint OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee “grows wary of demand at a time the three largest crude producers in the world are boosting their output to record highs,” Ohri said. JMMC officials monitor implementation of crude output agreement that began on Jan. 1, 2017 between members and nonmembers.

West Texas Intermediate crude for December CLZ8, -0.77%  fell 89 cents, or 1.4%, to settle at $62.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices, which logged a seventh straight decline — the longest since March of 2017 — marked their lowest settlement since early April of this year, according to data compiled by Dow Jones Market Data.

January Brent crude LCOF9, -2.08% the global benchmark, fell $1.04, or 1.4%, to $72.13 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe—the lowest settlement since Aug. 17.

Both contracts have generally traded in the red following a sharp October selloff that pushed both the global and U.S. benchmarks into correction territory.

The renewed sanctions on Iran took effect Monday, but the Trump administration late last week announced temporary waivers to eight countries, which it identified as some of Iran's biggest oil buyers: China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.

“These countries take on the lion's share of Iranian oil exports,” wrote analysts at Commerzbank. “This is bad news for oil prices, as it means the supply situation on the oil market is set to ease further.”

Trump in May pulled the U.S. out of a 2015 international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program, eventually leading to the reimposition of sanctions. But the well-telegraphed move prompted buyers of Iranian crude to reduce their purchases in the run-up to the sanctions, helping to reduce global supply and boosting Brent oil prices to four-year highs near $85 a barrel at the start of last month.

That was before a near 15% retreat ensued as major oil producers, particularly Saudi Arabia, Russia and the U.S., have seen significant output growth.

In a monthly report issued Tuesday, the Energy Information Administration raised its forecasts on U.S. crude-oil production . It expects 2019 U.S. crude output of 12.06 million barrels a day, up 2.6% from its previous forecast.

Among other data, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, releases weekly figures late Tuesday on U.S. oil inventories, followed by official data from the EIA Wednesday.

Analysts polled by S&P Global Platts expect the EIA to report a rise of 1.9 million barrels in crude stockpiles for the week ended Nov. 2. The EIA has already reported increases in each of the last six weeks. The survey also forecasts supply declines of 2.1 million barrels for gasoline and 2.03 million barrels for distillates, which include heating oil.

On Nymex, December gasoline RBZ8, -0.96%  rose 0.1% to $1.694 a gallon, while December heating oil HOZ8, -0.32%  declined by 0.4% at $2.188 a gallon.

Meanwhile, natural-gas futures eased back from a multimonth high, after jumping nearly 9% Monday, buoyed by expectations that cold weather will lead to a significant lift in demand.

December natural gas NGZ18, -0.53% settled at $3.555 per million British thermal units, down 0.3%. It settled Monday at $3.567—the highest finish for a front-month contract since late January.



Story by Mayra P. Saefong from MarketWatch.

11 06 2018 19:34 GMT

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