Oil jumps 2% on signs of output cuts and demand hopes

A kayaker passes in front of an offshore oil platform in the Guanabara Bay in Niteroi, Brazil, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020.
Dado Galdieri | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Oil prices rose on Tuesday amid signs that producers are cutting output as promised and on signs of increasing demand as more countries ease out of curbs imposed to counter the coronavirus pandemic.

The front-month contract for West Texas Intermediate crude, which is set to expire on Tuesday, gained 68 cents, or 2.14%, to settle at $32.50 per barrel. The July contract, which was trading at vastly higher volumes, traded slightly higher at $31.89 per barrel. International benchmark Brent crude shed 16 cents, or 0.46%, to settle at $34.65 per barrel.

"The market sees both forces aligning: the cuts OPEC+ promised are materialising and other non-member production shut-downs are also really helping to limit the oversupply," said Paola Rodriguez Masiu, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.

"Meanwhile, lockdown measures are removed globally and the economy needs fuel to restart."

But global demand recovery is expected to be slow as some restrictions remain and there is a significant risk of repeat outbreaks and lockdowns.

Consultants the Eurasia Group urged caution on expectations for higher oil consumption, citing "a global recession, cautious consumers, and a later and potentially worse peak of the coronavirus outbreak in emerging markets such as Latin America, Africa, and South Asia".

But amid signs of rising demand for crude and fuels, there was little sign of a repeat of the historic plunge below zero seen a month ago on the eve of the May contract's expiry.

The market was boosted earlier by signs that output cuts agreed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and others including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, are being implemented.

OPEC+ cut its oil exports sharply in the first half of May, companies that track shipments said, suggesting a strong start in complying with their latest pact to curb output.

U.S. production is also falling, with crude output from seven major shale formations expected to fall to 7.822 million barrels per day in June, the lowest since August 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

A recovery in fuel demand in India also gathered momentum in the first half of May.