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Oil falls further as demand uncertainty outweighs OPEC+

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Oil falls further as demand uncertainty outweighs OPEC+
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view shows branded oil tanks at Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

By Paul Carsten

LONDON (Reuters) -Oil prices dropped on Thursday, extending the previous session’s sharp losses as an uncertain demand outlook overshadowed an OPEC+ panel meeting deciding to maintain oil output cuts to keep supply tight.

futures had fallen 65 cents to $85.16 a barrel by 1245 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were 75 cents lower at $83.47. Both benchmarks fell by more than $1 in earlier trading.

“Currently economic malaise is in the forefront of thinking and is the main price driver. The strong dollar, sluggish equity markets and rising bond yields are souring investor’s sentiment in energy,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM in a note.

Oil settled more than $5 lower on Wednesday – its biggest daily drop in over a year – as a bleaker macroeconomic outlook and fuel demand destruction came into focus following a meeting of an OPEC+ panel, grouping the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia.

The OPEC+ ministerial panel made no changes to the group’s oil output policy, and Saudi Arabia said it would continue with a voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of 2023, while Russia would keep a 300,000 bpd voluntary export curb until the end of December.

The Kremlin also said there was no deadline on lifting a ban on fuel exports to fight high local gasoline and diesel prices.

“We continue to see the market in deficit through the fourth quarter and the softer prices reduce the probability OPEC will ease supply constraints,” National Australia Bank (OTC:) analysts said.

On the downside, the euro zone economy probably shrank last quarter, according to a survey which showed demand fell in September at the fastest pace in almost three years as consumers reined in spending amid rising borrowing costs and prices.

The latest data also showed a sharp decline in U.S. gasoline demand. Finished motor gasoline supplied, a proxy for demand, fell last week to about 8 million bpd, its lowest since the start of this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Wednesday.

The U.S. services sector slowed in September as new orders fell to a nine-month low, though the pace remained consistent with expectations for solid third quarter economic growth.

Meanwhile, a pipeline from Iraq through Turkey, which has been suspended for about six months, is ready for operations, the Turkish energy minister said on Thursday.

Commodities

Canadian wildfire reaches Jasper, firefighters battle to protect oil pipeline

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(Reuters) -A wildfire reached the Canadian town of Jasper, Alberta on Wednesday, one of hundreds ravaging the western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, as firefighters battled to save key facilities such as the Trans Mountain Pipeline, authorities said.

Wildfires burning uncontrolled across the region include 433 in British Columbia and 176 in Alberta, more than a dozen of them in the area of Fort McMurray, an oil sands hub.

The pipeline, which can carry 890,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Edmonton to Vancouver, runs through a national park in the Canadian Rockies near the picturesque tourist town, from which about 25,000 people were forced to evacuate on Tuesday.

“Firefighters … are working to save as many structures as possible and protect critical infrastructure, including the wastewater treatment plant, communications facilities, the Trans Mountain Pipeline,” Parks Canada said in a post on Facebook (NASDAQ:).

The pipeline operator did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment, but said earlier it was safely operating the pipeline and had deployed sprinkler protection as a preventive measure.

In the day’s last update, Jasper National Park said it could not report on the extent of damage to specific locations or neighbourhoods, and that it would provide further updates on Thursday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government approved Alberta’s request for federal assistance.

“We’re deploying Canadian Armed Forces resources, evacuations support, and more emergency wildfire resources to the province immediately – and we’re coordinating firefighting and airlift assistance. Alberta, we’re with you.”

The town, and the park, which draws more than two million tourists a year, were evacuated on Monday night, at a time when officials estimated there were 15,000 visitors in the park.

© Reuters. Smoke rises from the Lower Campbell Creek wildfire (K51472) wildfire northwest of Beaverdell, British Columbia, Canada July 24, 2024.   BC Wildfire Service/Handout via REUTERS.

Deteriorating air quality forced firefighters and others lacking breathing equipment to evacuate to the town of Hinton, about 100 km (62 miles) away, park authorities said on Facebook on Wednesday evening.

Officials of Parks Canada earlier said they expected rain to arrive overnight.

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Gold prices slide as safe haven plays favor yen; Copper losses deepen

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Investing.com– Gold prices fell in Asian trade on Thursday, seeing little safe haven demand despite increasing risk-off sentiment as traders rode a sharp appreciation in the Japanese yen. 

A rout in broader commodity markets also raged on, with copper prices extended a sinking to a near four-month low amid persistent concerns over top importer China. Weak readings on manufacturing activity from the U.S., Germany and Japan also soured copper’s outlook. 

slid 0.9% to $2,376.11 an ounce, while expiring in August tumbled 1.7% to $2,375.40 an ounce by 00:52 ET (04:52 GMT). 

Gold prices retreat as safe haven plays, rate hike bets favor yen 

The yellow metal saw little safe haven demand even as global markets experienced a sharp drop in risk appetite, with traders pivoting into the Japanese yen. The yen’s pair, which gauges the number of yen needed to buy one dollar, sank to an over two-month low on Thursday. 

The yen benefited from an unwinding in short positions over the past week, following suspected currency market intervention by Tokyo. But speculation over a potential interest rate hike by the next week also benefited the yen, especially as recent data signaled some resilience in the Japanese economy. 

Gold and metal markets took little advantage of a drop in the dollar, which retreated before a slew of key U.S. economic readings in the coming days. data for the second quarter is due later on Thursday, while data- the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge- is due on Friday. 

Other precious metals also retreated. slid 1.1% to $949.60 an ounce, while tumbled 4.2% to $28.098 an ounce, unwinding a bulk of their recent rally.

Copper losses deepen amid demand jitters 

Among industrial metals, copper prices fell further on Thursday, facing increased selling pressure amid concerns over a slowdown in global demand. 

Benchmark on the London Metal Exchange slid 1.6% to $8,960.50 a tonne- breaking below $9,000 for the first time since early-April. One-month fell 0.6% to $4.0540 a pound.

Both contracts were nursing steep losses in recent sessions, amid growing concerns over demand in top importer China, following a string of underwhelming economic readings from the country.

Concerns over a demand slowdown were furthered by weak manufacturing activity data from the U.S., Japan and Germany, which showed industrial activity was on the backfoot.

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Oil down $1 as muted Chinese consumption outweighs inventory draws

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By Noah Browning

(Reuters) -Oil prices fell on Thursday as demand signals from lacklustre Chinese consumption outweighed the previous day’s data showing large draws on U.S. inventories.

futures for September fell $1.01, or 1.2%, to $80.70 a barrel by 1117 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for September slid $1.2, or 1%, to $76.67.

Both benchmarks rose on Wednesday, snapping consecutive sessions of declines after the Energy Information Administration said inventories fell by more than expected to 3.7 million barrels last week. [EIA/S]

U.S. gasoline stocks dropped by 5.6 million barrels, against analyst expectations of a 400,000 draw.

“Despite draws in U.S. crude and gasoline stocks, investors remained wary about weakening demand in China and expectations of advancing ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas added to pressure,” said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, president of NS Trading, owned by Nissan (OTC:) Securities.

China’s oil imports and refinery runs this year have trended lower than in 2023 on weaker fuel demand amid sluggish economic growth, government data shows.

“Growing concerns over the strength of oil demand in the short to medium term have acquired a strong grip on market sentiment,” said Vandana Hari, founder of oil market analysis provider Vanda (NASDAQ:) Insight.

In the Middle East, efforts to reach a ceasefire deal to end the war in Gaza between Israel and militant group Hamas have gained momentum over the past month. A breakthrough could erode lingering threats to supply and send prices lower.

The U.S. Federal Reserve, meanwhile, is expected to cut interest rates only twice this year, in September and December, according to a Reuters poll of economists, with resilient U.S. consumer demand prompting a cautious approach despite easing inflation.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a crude oil tanker at an oil terminal off Waidiao island in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, China January 4, 2023. China Daily via REUTERS/File Photo

Lower interest rates should spur economic growth, leading to more oil consumption.

In Canada, hundreds of wildfires are burning in the western provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, including in the area of oil sands hub Fort McMurray.

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