Futures & Commodities

Goldman Sachs: 'Cautiously optimistic' on oil prices as supply-demand rebalancing

Key Points
  • Goldman Sachs said it remained cautiously optimistic on oil prices, despite the rebound over the past month
  • Supportive factors included stock drawdown, falling U.S. rig count and robust demand, it said
  • But too large a price recovery will increase downside risk as shale production can ramp up rapidly, it added
Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

The rebalancing in the oil market is accelerating, said Goldman Sachs in a note on Thursday.

"While OPEC's production path remains uncertain, recent fundamental oil data have come in even better than we had expected," Goldman said. "If sustained, these trends would help achieve the normalization in inventories by early next year."

Oil prices have rebounded over the past month due to large inventory draws, falling U.S. rig count and strong demand demand data, with prices rising above Goldman's September 2017 forecast of $50 a barrel Brent, the investment bank noted.

Data out of the U.S., Europe, Singapore and Japan point to overall inventory declines of 83 million barrels since March, according to Goldman's data.

Robust demand in particular has sent spot prices outperforming two-year forward West Texas intermediate prices by $2.40 barrel over the past month, Goldman analyst Damien Courvalin wrote in the note.

Europe, the U.S., India and China were driving up consumption and Goldman expected this strong demand growth to remain in place through the second half of the year. Its forecasts pointed to sustained draws through the third quarter of the year.

Natural gas inventories up 17 billion cubic feet

This would cause near-term tightness in the physical oil market, which will push prices into a backwardation pattern this year, which means cargoes for near-term delivery would be priced higher than those for later shipment, the house added.

The investment bank, however, said it remains "cautiously optimistic" on prices from the current level as improvements in supply-demand fundamentals need to be sustained for the market to rally further.

Too large a price recovery now would only increase downside risk to its year-end $55 a barrel forecast as shale production can ramp up rapidly in response to price gains, it said.

Oil futures were flat Friday morning in Asia trade, with U.S. crude moving around $49 a barrel, while Brent crude was trading around $51.45 a barrel.