A lack of oil pushes key benchmarks higher

A lack of oil pushes key benchmarks higher

June 7 (UPI) — Concerns about the lack of supply from Iran and Venezuela re-emerged early Thursday to push the price of crude oil sharply higher.

Crude oil prices moved in volatile territory on Wednesday after the U.S. federal government reported growth in domestic crude oil inventories. Traders, however, said the market mood has shifted toward production, not inventories, amid concerns on what happens in the second half of the year.

First-half 2018 was characterized by heightened geopolitical risk and U.S. sanctions action on Iran, which helped push the price of Brent crude oil toward $80 per barrel earlier this year. U.S. trade pressures on China and Europe, meanwhile, have balanced against some of that risk.

Vandana Hari, a market analyst and founder of Vanda Insights, said in a daily newsletter that concerns about Iran and Venezuela were top focal points early in the session.

“Venezuela’s [Petróleos de Venezuela] is considering declaring force majeure on some crude exports owing to a sharp decline in production and tanker congestion at its load ports,” her report read.

Force majeure is a contractual condition related to circumstances beyond the control of the parties involved.

The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was up 1.07 percent as of 9:20 a.m. EDT to $76.17 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, was up 1.02 percent to $65.39 per barrel.

OPEC said it may consider putting more oil on the market in the second half of the year to offset declines from Iran and Venezuela.

On the economic front, Peter Praet, an executive board member at the European Central Bank, said Wednesday in Berlin that wage growth was finally catching up with economic momentum in the euro zone. Wages in the German market increased 2.3 percent in the first quarter of 2018, up from 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

“Annual growth in negotiated wages in the euro area increased to 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2018, from 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017,” he said in his prepared remarks.

Wage growth could be an indicator of growing demand, though there are ever-present concerns that global trade wars and geopolitical risk could stifle growth.

European data published Thursday show seasonally adjusted growth in gross domestic product for the countries that use the euro currency rose by 2.5 percent in the first quarter, compared to 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter.