Oil up $3, above $112 after record rout last week

Oil up $3, above $112 after record rout last week

London: Oil rebounded on Monday, up over $3 helped by a weaker dollar, rising Asian equity markets and bargain hunting by traders and investors after Brent crude lost over $16 last week.

At 02:20 pm Brent crude for June was up by $3.07 to $112.20 a barrel. US crude rose by $2.57 to $99.75, after hitting an intraday high of $99.99 a barrel.

“It’s a combination of a slightly weaker US dollar, rising equity markets in Asia and bargain-hunting," said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

“Some market participants consider the lower price levels after the sharp drop on Thursday a good buying opportunity."

The Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global benchmark for commodities prices, last week staged its biggest weekly drop since late 2008, down 9%.

The dollar was down 0.50% against a basket of currencies at 01:10 pm on Monday, with the euro bouncing back in early Asian trade as traders scooped it up after a steep drop last week.

MSCI’s index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan was also up 2.86% by 01:30 pm, after falling nearly 3% last week.

But Fritsch was cautious about the rebound. “I can’t imagine we will rise back to the levels we saw before the sharp drop any time soon," he said.

“I see some consolidation in the coming days before we start to rise again. And in the interim we may test the lows from Friday. Techincal levels have been broken and it will take some time for the markets to recover."

According to technical charts, Brent futures are expected to revisit Friday’s low of $105.15 per barrel, while US crude could head back down to $94.63, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.

Edward Meir, a senior commodity analyst at MF Global, was also cautious, believing US crude could be forced down to $95, and possibly $90, over the course of May.

“There has been a record amount length built up by non-commercial speculative money in crude, and we suspect that more of these long positions will be flushed out over the course of the month," he said in a note.

After the massive losses for oil on Thursday, banks Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan were predicting increases for crude because of tight supplies.

“Importantly, supply disruptions are still present and despite higher prices, global oil demand remains robust," US investment bank Morgan Stanley said in a research note on Monday, echoing earlier calls by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Demand destruction?

This week the market will be looking to see if high price levels have had an impact on oil demand, with Chinese import data for April due on Tuesday and the monthly outlooks from Opec and the IEA on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

“Possibly we will see a slight downward revision to oil demand growth forecasts for this year and that could also cap price rallies this week," said Fritsch.

Iran’s Opec governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi told Reuters on Sunday he expected the price of oil to pick up again during the start of the summer season, but said the market was well supplied.

Opec is due to meet in June, and if supply remains at the current levels there will be no need to boost output, Khatibi added.

The market is also eyeing key Chinese inflation data expected this week.

A higher than expected reading might revive expectations of more policy tightening from Beijing, dealing a further blow to beaten-down commodities.