(Bloomberg) Oil held a three-day gain after a big draw in US stockpiles and warning from Saudi Arabia aimed at short-sellers, with crude finding support even as tensions ticked higher over the US debt-ceiling impasse.
West Texas Intermediate traded above $74 a barrel after rallying by nearly 4% over the previous three days. US nationwide crude inventories plunged by more than 12 million barrels last week, the biggest drop in six months. That augmented bullishness in the market after Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told speculators earlier this week to “watch out.”
Still, there’s persistent concern about the fight over raising the US federal debt limit and the potential consequences for the global economy and energy demand. Fitch Ratings said Wednesday it may downgrade US credit ratings to reflect the worsening political partisanship that’s preventing a deal.
Crude is still down more than 7% for the year as lackluster Chinese growth and tighter US monetary policy combined to subdue demand. Federal Reserve officials are leaning toward pausing rate hikes in June, though they also signaled they’re not yet ready to end their fight against inflation.
“The outlook for the oil market appears poor for now: macroeconomic drivers like the US debt-deal negotiations and tighter US monetary policy are weighing” on prices, said Sean Lim, an oil and gas analyst at RHB Investment Bank Bhd in Kuala Lumpur. Still, as China’s recovery picks up steam, prices should gain over the second half, he said.
Traders are also looking ahead to a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies early next month. Despite the threat against short-sellers from Riyadh this week, many traders and analysts are still expecting Saudi Arabia and its partners to keep output levels unchanged.