Oil futures: Prices stable amid supply concerns, Davos flags economic woes

24 May 2022

Quantum Commodity Intelligence - Crude oil futures Tuesday were little changed on the day, having rebounded from earlier losses which came amid concerns aired at the Davos economic forum that the war in Ukraine would likely curtail economic growth.

Front-month July ICE Brent futures were trading at $113.46/b (1635 GMT), compared to Monday's settle of $113.42/b and Tuesday's low of $111.70/b.

At the same time, July NYMEX WTI was trading $109.39/b, versus Monday's settle of 110.29/b.

"Energy traders see choppy waters ahead for oil prices as uncertainty persists with the global economic outlook and over the EU's progress with a ban on Russian oil," said Ed Moya, senior market analyst at brokerage Oanda, adding it was unclear when the US economy will have a recession and how the Chinese economy will perform given the constant risk of Covid-19 lockdowns. 

Speaking in Davos, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the war in Ukraine has dampened the outlook for the global economy this year and could result in recession for more vulnerable countries.

Kristalina Georgieva predicted that 2022 would be a tough year and would not rule out a global recession if conditions worsened markedly.

Meanwhile, Germany's economy minister expects the EU to agree to a ban on Russian oil imports soon, with the bloc working on measures to cap price rises that came in the wake of previous sanctions against Moscow.

Hungary is still holding out against the EU proposal to ban Russian oil by the end of the year and while the bloc is confident of implementing the plan, it may involve concessions for Hungary and potentially other nations.

Prices for cargoes of diesel delivered into northwest Europe that come with guarantees that the fuel is not from Russia have widened to record levels this week.

Totsa bid for a non-Russian cargo at $26.50/mt over June low sulfur gasoil futures, whereas Vitol was offering open-origin at $24/mt under June swaps - a spread of more than $50/b.

Meanwhile, global gasoline markets settled down after South Korea's S-Oil announced it had restarted the RFCC unit after a fire at the refinery last week. Asian gasoline cracks had rallied to record levels on Friday before tumbling by more than $8/b Monday and easing further Tuesday.

Eurobob gasoline cracks fell by around $2/b on Monday, almost unwinding all of Friday's gains as they neared two-week lows, according to Quantum data.