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Oil Prices Hit Three-Year Highs on Growth, Geopolitics
10 January 2018, 12:32 | Kenneth Drake
Oil prices hit fresh highs but worries grow of overheated market
10 Jan 2018- 18:51
Brent touched $68.27 last week, its highest since May, 2015.
Benchmark Brent crude rose further above $68 a barrel on Tuesday, supported by oil output cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russian Federation that are due to run until the end of 2018.
Analysts say USA output may have levelled off over the holidays.
The market has rallied in recent weeks as investors bet on an increasingly tighter market, aided by data showing declining US stockpiles and threats to supply from major producers such as Iran and Venezuela.
"This is a little more confirmation of what speculators have been looking for and after tomorrow's (U.S. government inventory) report, we'll see if they look to do some profit taking".
"The fact that the crude benchmarks are establishing highest levels since spring of 2015 on very little fresh fundamental input continues to suggest a strong market underpinning", said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, in a Tuesday note.
"We expect oil demand growth to outpace non-OPEC supply growth in both 2018 and 2019", Standard Chartered analysts said in a note. Economic collapse is leading to involuntary production cuts in Venezuela, another OPEC member.
However, some analysts believe market participants are getting to optimistic, especially given expectations for an increase in USA shale production.
"We are in winter, a season in which prices go up as demand for petroleum products goes up", Iranian oil minister added. However, Saudi Arabia, OPEC's top producer, wants to see crude above $60 to boost the valuation of its national oil company Aramco before an initial public offering of shares this year and to reduce the gap in its state budget, Saudi sources have said.
Despite this, US production is expected soon to rise above 10 million barrels per day, largely thanks to soaring output from shale drillers.
Traders said the gains were due to a slight decline in the number of USA rigs drilling for new production, which eased by five in the week to January 5, to 742, according to data from oil services firm Baker Hughes.
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