Crude Oil Slips as Bond Yields Pressure Risk Assets

By Geoffrey Smith — Crude oil prices drifted lower on Friday as rising interest rates started to chip away at this week’s on-off rally in risk assets.

By 10:45 AM ET (1545 GMT), futures were down 0.5% at  $65.71 a barrel, while , the global benchmark, was down 0.5% at $69.27 a barrel.

As such, both markers were on course to end the week roughly where they started it, having failed to hold above $70 after a failed attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities at the start of the week.

“Despite being supported by the U.S. stimulus Bill and signs of a fuel consumption rebound around the world, the market is still waiting to see a sustainable pickup in global fuel demand that can justify current oil prices,” said Ole Hanson, head of commodities research at Saxo Bank, in a weekly note.

On Thursday, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had revised down estimates for its output slightly this year, owing to expectations that the rise in prices will encourage a modest rise in non-OPEC supply. That thesis is set to be tested later by Baker Hughes’ weekly rig count, which hit 310 last week – its highest since May, but still nowhere near what is needed to generate a sustained rebound in U.S. output.

President Joe Biden, in a televised address late on Thursday, again hinted at a quicker reopening of the U.S. economy this spring, urging states to ensure that all adults are eligible for vaccination by the start of May. Biden has previously said that the country should have enough vaccines to protect its entire adult population by the end of May.

A higher degree of protection ought to underpin a revival in demand to travel. That’s reflected in the fact that U.S. gasoline futures, in contrast to crude prices, have continued their remorseless rise this week, and are on course for an eighth straight week of gains. Gasoline RBOB futures rose another 0.4% to $2.1455 a gallon on Friday, as data from Pay with GasBuddy showed that this had been the strongest week for gasoline demand since the pandemic erupted over a year ago.

Later Friday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will release its weekly data on net positioning in crude and other commodities. Hedge funds have trimmed their exposure in the last two weeks, conscious that the current high prices are likely to last only as long as the discipline of the OPEC+ block, which is still keeping nearly 7 million barrels of oil a day off the market in order to whittle down last year’s surge in stockpiles

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