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US crude rises 1.3% to settle at $46.08, shaking off downbeat forecast from energy watchdog

  • The International Energy Agency said the oil market could stay oversupplied for longer than expected due to rising production and limited output cuts by some OPEC exporters.
  • Rising consumption in Germany and the United States was helping boost oil demand, IEA said.
  • OPEC said its production rose by 393,000 barrels per day in June to 32.611 million bpd.

Oil prices were higher on Thursday after evidence of stronger demand balanced reports of higher production by key OPEC exporters in a downbeat report by the International Energy Agency.

U.S. light crude ended Thursday's session up 59 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $46.08. Brent crude rose 63 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $48.37 a barrel by 2:40 p.m. ET (1840 GMT).

There is evidence world oil demand is picking up, notably in the United States and China, the world's two biggest oil consumers.

China imported 8.55 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in the first six months of this year, up 13.8 percent on the same period in 2016, making it the world's biggest crude importer ahead of the United States.

"We are definitely seeing robust demand growth" in China, said Neil Beveridge, senior oil analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.

The Paris-based IEA issued a stronger outlook for global oil demand, with consumption in Germany and the United States increasing in recent months.

Still, oil inventories in industrialized nations remain high despite a modest drop in May. OECD stocks are still 266 million barrels above the five-year average, the IEA said.

The agency warned the oil market could stay oversupplied for longer than expected due to rising production and limited output cuts by some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"Each month something seems to come along to raise doubts about the pace of the rebalancing process," the IEA report said.

"This month, there are two hitches: a dramatic recovery in oil production from Libya and Nigeria and a lower rate of compliance by OPEC with its own output agreement."

OPEC said its production rose by 393,000 bpd in June to 32.611 million bpd, thanks to extra output from Nigeria and Libya.

That came despite a pledge by OPEC to curb production by about 1.2 million bpd between January this year and March 2018, while Russia and other non-OPEC producers say they will hold back about half as much.

OPEC's compliance with cuts slumped to 78 percent last month from 95 percent in May as higher-than-allowed output from Algeria, Ecuador, Gabon, Iraq, the UAE and Venezuela offset strong compliance from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Angola, the IEA said.

OPEC said on Wednesday the world would need only 32.2 million bpd of its crude next year, down 60,000 bpd from this year and about 400,000 bpd less than it pumped in June.

Oil prices have dropped in recent weeks to levels not seen since the end of last year as investors lost faith in a deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers to reduce output, while U.S. shale oil production has risen sharply.

Prices responded only minimally to data Wednesday showing that U.S. crude oil inventories dropped last week by the most in 10 months.

"The market is having difficulty picking its head up," said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.