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Lower Inflation Sparks Oil Price Rise as Dollar Weakens
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Lower Inflation Sparks Oil Price Rise as Dollar Weakens

Story Highlights

Oil prices are up in part due to the recent inflation data that have markets expecting lower U.S. interest rates.

A lower inflation report in the U.S. than in previous months has ironically sparked a rise in oil prices. This counterintuitive direction makes sense as it can be attributed to a weaker U.S. dollar. In addition to the dollar, and to a lesser extent, a decline in oil inventories, supply chain issues, and a recent oil spill all point to a higher per barrel cost of crude. If the U.S. continues to experience lower inflation, a chain of events may cause the market price for oil to continue to increase.

Tame Inflation, Boost in Oil

The trigger for the dollar’s depreciation was a softer-than-expected U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) reading. This indicates that inflation, a major concern for global markets, might be under control. Nothing in global economics occurs in a vacuum; a weaker dollar makes oil, which is priced in U.S. dollars, more attractive for foreign currency holders. This increased demand from international buyers helps push oil prices higher.

Shrinking Inventories Seen as a Contributor

Adding fuel to the fire was a significant drop in US oil inventories. The stockpile shed a surprising 2.5 million barrels in the week ending May 10th. This is expected to lead to increased demand, especially with the summer driving season approaching. Lower inventories could signal tighter supplies in the coming months, further bolstering oil prices.

However, the bullish sentiment is tempered by the fact that U.S. oil production remains near record highs. This acts as a counterbalancing force, preventing a runaway increase in oil prices.

Supply Chain Disruptions and Conflicting Forecasts

While the prospect of tighter supplies pumped up oil markets in the short term, the long-term outlook remains uncertain. The oil spill incident in Galveston, Texas, raised concerns about potential supply disruptions. However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) cast doubt by revising its demand forecast downward by 140,000 barrels per day. This stands in contrast to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) prediction of a robust 2.25 million barrels per day demand growth for 2024.

Key Takeaway

The interplay between a weaker dollar due to lower inflation, shrinking inventories, and conflicting demand forecasts has created an odd situation for the oil market. While short-term factors currently favor a price hike, the long-term direction remains unclear as it hinges on the global economic climate and the accuracy of demand predictions.

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