Friday, January 18, 2019
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WTI Crude Above $104 With Jobless Claims Under Forecast

West Texas Intermediate crude rose to trade above $104 for a fifth day as a report showed fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week.

Prices climbed as much as 0.8 percent. Jobless claims reached 304,000, the Labor Department reported, below the 315,000 that was the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Oil also increased on concern the Ukraine crisis will disrupt supplies. Brent's gains were limited as Libya started shipping oil from the eastern Hariga port.

"The jobless claims are supportive for the market," said Bill Baruch, a senior market strategist at in Chicago. "The momentum is up for oil. The tension in Ukraine is not going anywhere and is keeping prices elevated."

WTI for May delivery rose 79 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $104.55 a barrel at 10:53 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The volume of all futures traded was 7.2 percent above the 100-day average. Prices have advanced 6.2 percent this year. Nymex trading is closed tomorrow for Good Friday.

Brent for June settlement rose 21 cents to $109.81 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Volume was 20 percent below the 100-day average. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $6.21 to WTI for the same month. The spread widened for a third day yesterday to close at $6.57.
U.S. Unemployment

Jobless claims increased by 2,000 in the week ended April 12 from a revised 302,000 the prior period that was the lowest since September 2007, the report showed. The four-week average of claims, a less volatile measure than the weekly figure, dropped to 312,000, the lowest since October 2007, from 316,750 the week before.

"The strong U.S. economic data suggests stronger demand," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago. "It's a three-day weekend and there is a lot of geopolitical risk."

Gasoline consumption averaged over four weeks increased to 8.83 million barrels a day in the week ended April 11, the highest level since January, the Energy Information Administration reported yesterday.

Ukrainian police killed three pro-Russian fighters and wounded 13 after an attack on a national guard base in the southeast Ukrainian city of Mariupol overnight, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Facebook today. Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected claims from Ukraine that he'd deployed troops there and said he would fight to defend compatriots in other countries.

U.S. President Barack Obama warned that Russia will face further economic penalties unless Putin backs away from supporting separatist militias in Ukraine and pulls troops from the border.
Ukraine Crisis

"The escalating crisis in Ukraine provides strong support to the market amid concerns about oil supply issues in the region," Myrto Sokou, an analyst at Sucden Financial Ltd. in London, said in an e-mail.

In Libya, the oil tanker Aegean Dignity is ready to sail from the port of Hariga, Libyan Oil Ministry Measurement Director Ibrahim Al Awami said. It's the state-run National Oil Corp.'s first export from the terminal since July.

Nariga is one of four ports seized last year by rebels seeking self-rule in the east of the country.

Libya, which holds Africa's largest reserves, is producing 330,000 barrels a day of crude, according to Mohamed Elharari, a spokesman at National Oil Corp. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries member was pumping almost 1.6 million before the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi three years ago.

To contact the reporter on this story: Moming Zhou in New York at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Banker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Richard Stubbe, Charlotte Porter


  • Department of Energy Weekly Report (Wednesdays 10:30am est)
  • American Petroleum Institute Weekly Report (Wednesdays 10:30am Est)
  • Natural Gas Inventories Weekly Report (Thursdays 10:30am est)
  • OPEC Production Quotas
  • OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report
  • Non-OPEC Oil Production
  • Mideast Stability
  • Weather- Related demand
  • CFTC Commitment of Traders Report
  • Energy Information Administration Report (Tuesday afternoons)
  • International Energy Agency Policy
  • Chinese (Asian) demand
  • Iraqi production and export levels
  • Russian shale production
  • Alternation Energy production and technological breakthroughs
  • Inflation
  • Dollar weakness and purchasing power
  • Refining Capacity
  • Weather related refining production limitations (eg hurricanes in the gulf)
  • Venezuelan Production
  • Venezuelan Foreign Policy in relation with US
  • Iran Nuclear dispute status
  • US Strategic Petroleum Reserves
  • US New Drilling and Exploratory Initiatives
  • Oil Spills
  • International Energy Agency Reserves
  • General Accountability Office Study on Geopolitical Disruptions
  • International and Domestic Tax rates relating to oil and gasoline
  • New Geopolitical order after Arab Spring

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