Oil on Track for Biggest Monthly Gains in Over a Year

©zimmytws/AdobeStock
©zimmytws/AdobeStock

Oil prices edged lower on Monday but were hovering near three-month highs and were set to post their biggest monthly gains in more than a year on expectations that Saudi Arabia would extend voluntary output cuts into September and tighten global supply.

Brent crude futures were down 30 cents to $84.69 a barrel by 0632 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $80.36 a barrel, down 22 cents. 

The September Brent contract will expire on Monday. The more active October contract was at $84.16 a barrel, down 25 cents. 

Brent and WTI settled on Friday at their highest levels since April, gaining for a fifth straight week, as tightening oil supplies globally and expectations of an end to U.S. interest rate hikes supported prices. 

Both are on track to close July with their biggest monthly gains since January 2022. 

"While it seems that crude may have priced in all the good news on U.S. inflation and economic resiliency for the time being, it may continue inching higher still," said Vandana Hari, founder of oil market analysis provider Vanda Insights. 

"Most of the strong buying activity has been occurring during the U.S. trading hours; action during the Asian session remains relatively slow and a poor indicator of sentiment," Hari added.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is expected to extend a voluntary oil output cut of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) for another month to include September, analysts said. 

Saudi Arabia is expected to announce this at the Friday meeting of OPEC+, a group comprising the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia that pumps around 40% of the world's crude. 

"Oil prices are up 18% since mid-June as record-high demand and Saudi supply cuts have brought back deficits, and as the market has abandoned its growth pessimism," Goldman Sachs analysts said in a July 30 note. 

"We still expect the extra 1 million bpd Saudi cut to last through September, and to be halved from October." 

The bank maintained its Brent forecast at $86 a barrel for December and expects prices to rise to $93 in the second quarter of 2024. 

Goldman Sachs estimated that global oil demand rose to a record 102.8 million bpd in July and it revised up 2023 demand by about 550,000 bpd on stronger economic growth estimates in India and the U.S., offsetting a downgrade for China's consumption. 

"Firmer demand is driving a moderately larger deficit in H2 2023 than expected, averaging 1.8 million bpd, and a modest 0.6 million bpd deficit in 2024," it said. 

Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods said the company expects record oil demand this year and next year, and that this may help boost energy prices in the second half of the year. 

In the U.S., energy firms in July cut the number of oil rigs for an eighth straight month by one to 529, Baker Hughes said in its weekly report on Friday.

Oil price on rise https://tmsnrt.rs/3OzTmQt

(Reuters - Reporting by Florence Tan in Singapore and Mohi Narayan in New Delhi; Editing by Tom Hogue, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Himani Sarkar)

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