Energy Oil prices weak as demand seen sagging towards year-end

Oil prices weak as demand seen sagging towards year-end

Brent crude oilCrude oil prices remained weak on Monday as a slowing demand outlook implied oversupply will remain in place for months, prompting speculators to cut their bets on rising prices.

Front-month U.S. crude futures CLc1 were trading at $44.77 per barrel at 0432 GMT, 17 cents above their last close but more than 12 percent below their October peak.

International benchmark Brent LCOc1 was 16 cents higher at $48.15 a barrel.

ANZ bank said it expected prices to remain low for the rest of this year and that speculators were cutting their bets on higher prices.

“Net speculative (U.S.) long positions declined by 13,841 contracts for the week ending 20 October,” ANZ said. “We remain cautious on commodity prices into year-end given weak demand conditions.”

On the demand side, research agency Energy Aspects said in its quarterly outlook that it “forecast a sharp slowdown in global oil demand across Q4 15 at 0.8 million barrels per day, which marks the slowest pace of growth in five quarters”.

Energy Aspects said ongoing oversupply in crude oil was starting to spill into the market for refined products, with a product stock-build of 0.6 million barrels per day seen in the third quarter.

Rising inventories as well as a mild winter expected for Europe and North America as a result of an El Nino weather event would likely lead to reduced refinery production and lower use of crude oil by refiners, it said.

Global oil markets were “still some way from rebalancing”, the research agency added.

Morgan Stanley said it was sanguine about oil demand in a report on Monday.

“We don’t dispute that refinery runs could face a lower growth period. However, we see support for underlying demand growth, and we view any product-related oversupply as temporary. Global refining margins are off highs, but the details are more positive,” the report said.

Due to the low oil prices, investment in the sector in 2016 will likely decline further after sliding this year by more than a fifth, Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said on Monday.

“If it comes true, this will be the first time in two decades we will see oil investments declining for two consecutive years and may be an indication for future oil markets,” he said at the Singapore International Energy Week.

Swift Worldwide Resources estimates that more than 200,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry have been cut worldwide since prices collapsed last year.