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Demand Continues to be Oils Achilles Heel and Set for Its Biggest Drop in Months

September 4, 2020

Oil

Oil futures fell 1% on Friday, with both sides of the Atlantic heading towards their biggest weekly drops since June, as severely weak demand and ample fuel supplies offset support from a weaker dollar.

Brent crude fell 44 cents to $43.63 a barrel by 0325 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate was at $40.94 a barrel, down 43 cents and set for its first weekly drop in five weeks.

The high volume of crude arriving in China, the world’s largest crude importer, is on course to slow in September after rising for five straight months as its refiners gradually digest bloated inventories.

In the U.S, refiners awash in diesel inventory look unlikely to boost output soon.

“Soft margins are likely to cap further crude rallies and we anticipate further run cuts this fall to expedite the rebalancing of product stocks,” RBC Capital analyst Mike Tran said in a note.

Production cuts led U.S. gasoline inventories to fall at a “manic” pace in the past two months, even though U.S. mobility indicators suggest that driving patterns have largely plateaued over the past 6-8 weeks, he added.

Meanwhile, middle distillates inventories at Asia’s oil hub Singapore have also soared above a 9-year high.

Rising coronavirus cases worldwide and renewed lockdowns would dash hopes of a drawdown in oil stocks for some time. The pressure now remains on refiners to keep operating rates low.