Trade Optimism Lifts Oil, Takes Gloss Off Gold

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Commodities had a softish week with oil doing well for the second week in a row, copper down for the week but gold weakening as risk moved back into vogue.

The major influence was the renewed speculation that the US and China may be about to do a trade deal – or at least the first part of a deal.

But nothing solid emerged as Donald Trump again made sure he was the centre of attention.

For him though there was the complication of the impeachment hearing in the House of Representatives

Oil futures climbed on Friday because of the optimism over a potential China trade deal even as traders weigh a conflicting outlook for crude supplies.

A fourth straight weekly fall in the number of rigs actively looking for oil also supported prices. Baker Hughes on Friday reported that the number of active US rigs drilling for oil fell by 10 to 674 last week.

That was 215 fewer rigs than a year ago when the number was 888. The number of gas rigs has also fallen sharply in the past year – down 65 to 129.

Despite the fall in oil rigs, daily US production hit a record high of 12.8 million barrels, according to the US Energy Information Administration. – that’s up around 11% in the past year.

US West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery rose 95 cents or 1.7%, to settle at $US57.72 a barrel in New York, around 0.8% higher for the week.

January Brent crude added $US1.02, or 1.6%, to $US63.30 a barrel in Europe

That was a rise of around 1.3% for the week and both crude markets made it two weekly gains in a row.

The rise came despite the Paris-based International Energy Agency, in its monthly report, lifted its 2020 forecast for oil output growth for countries outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The IEA said it expects non-OPEC supply growth to rise to 2.3 million barrels a day next year, up from its previous estimate of 2.2 million barrels a day.

OPEC, in its monthly report on Thursday, trimmed its own non-OPEC output growth forecast.

Analysts said OPEC’s figures point to supply outstripping demand by 645,000 barrels a day in the first half of 2020 — which will lift maintain pressure for the production cap to be maintained past next March.

OPEC and its allies meet in Vienna next month to discuss the status of their existing supply curbs. Russia and Saudi Arabia will effectively decide the fate of the cap.

Meanwhile, Comex gold futures eased on Friday, on those reports of progress in a trade deal between the Trump administration and China.

Comex gold for December delivery lost $US4.90, or 0.3%, to settle at $US1,468.50 an ounce, up around 0.4% for the week.

Comex December silver lost 8 cents, or 0.5%, to $US16.948 an ounce, to trim its weekly gain to around 0.7%.

Comex December copper rose 0.6% to $US2.638 a pound, but was still down 1.6% over the week

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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