Oil prices rise as US Senate passes debt ceiling bill

World’s biggest crude benchmarks have rebounded as the world’s largest economy averts a potential debt default

Oil prices are trading higher following the passage of a US debt ceiling agreement in Washington. AFP
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Oil prices rose on Friday after the US Senate passed a debt ceiling agreement in Washington, but futures recorded their first weekly losses in three weeks as demand concerns persist amid higher inflation and monetary policy tightening by central banks.

Brent, the benchmark for two thirds of the world’s oil, settled 2.49 per cent higher at $76.13 a barrel on Friday. West Texas Intermediate, the gauge that tracks US crude, was up 2.34 per cent at $71.74 a barrel.

US senators have passed a debt ceiling agreement forged by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the June 5 deadline for a destabilising US default approaches.

The Senate voted 63-36 to approve the bill that was passed on Wednesday by the House of Representatives.

A US default would have sent shock waves across the global financial system and probably triggered a recession, severely denting crude demand.

"Oil prices are edging higher into the end of the week, perhaps a sign of nerves appearing before the Opec+ meeting this weekend," said Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda.

"While there seems to be a widely held view that the group won't announce any further cuts, it's worth noting that the same was true at the last meeting and then the group announced cuts of roughly another million barrels."

On April 2, some Opec+ members – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and Algeria – announced voluntary production cuts of 1.16 million bpd.

Russia, which is under western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, also said the 500,000 bpd cut it is making from March to June would continue until the end of the year.

At an event in Qatar recently, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister told oil market short sellers to “watch out”, which was seen by some traders as a signal for further output reductions.

“I keep advising them that they will be 'ouching'. They did 'ouch' in April,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said at the time.

Short sellers strategically position themselves to make a profit if prices decline. They achieve this by selling borrowed assets in the hope of repurchasing them at a lower price.

However, if oil prices rally on an unexpected Opec+ cut, they face a loss.

"It's hard to ignore the warnings from the Saudi energy minister to 'watch out', threatening more 'ouching' for short speculators. This may be playing into the mind of traders fearing another surge on the open next week," Mr Erlam said.

According to Edward Bell, senior director of market economics at Emirates NBD, Opec+ is setting the stage for “a potential showdown on output levels, with the potential of another cut rising up the ranks of probabilities”.

“Much softer time spreads may help to encourage a wider cut among members,” he said in a note.

Oil price outlook amid recession fears: Business Extra

Oil price outlook amid recession fears: Business Extra

WTI prices fell by about 2 per cent on Wednesday as an unexpected increase in US crude stocks – an indicator of crude demand – stoked concerns about excess supply.

Commercial crude stocks in the world’s largest economy increased by 4.5 million barrels last week, the latest Energy Information Administration data shows.

Brent has lost more than 10 per cent of its value this year as weak economic growth in the world's top oil-consuming nations – the US and China – dampens the outlook for fuel demand.

“Crude prices were initially lower after a surprising large build was followed by a global round of disappointing manufacturing data that did not do any favours for the demand outlook,” said Ed Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda.

“If prices remain significantly under pressure going into the weekend, the Saudis might try convincing the Russians to take part in some type of modest production cut.”

Updated: June 04, 2023, 3:48 AM