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  • WTI surged above $56.00 on Wednesday amid a cocktail of bullish developments.
  • Though WTI has now slipped back to closer to $55.50, it still trades with solid gains on the day and week.

WTI surged for a third straight day on Wednesday, rallying from around the $55.00 mark during early European trading hours to as high as the $56.30s in wake of the 14:00GMT crude oil pit open (which is often followed by increased volume). However, in recent trade, it appears as though some long have been taking profit and WTI has slipped back to closer to the $55.50 mark.

Still, on the day front-month WTI crude oil futures are up more than 1.5% and trade with gains of well above 6.0% on the week. Needless to say, crude oil hit fresh 12-month highs on Wednesday and the longer-term bulls will be targeting the January 2020 highs just under $66.00.

Driving the day

A number of bullish factors have helped the crude complex post large gains for a third successive day; firstly, the OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee met on Wednesday and agreed to maintain their supply cut policy, a sign which analysts took as suggesting the cartel is happy to see that their supply cuts are draining inventories despite an uncertain demand recovery outlook. On Tuesday, OPEC+’s Joint Technical Committee leaked information that it believes (in its base case scenario) that global oil stockpiles will decline below their five-year average by June.

Secondly, broader market risk appetite is being bolstered by a combination of vaccine and US fiscal stimulus optimism; on the former, the latest update from the US CDC said that over 1.3M vaccines are now being administered per day in the country and that the prevalence of the virus is now in decline. Meanwhile, markets continue to bet that another healthy dose of fiscal stimulus is on the way, with one of US President Joe Biden’s economic advisors suggesting that he thought a $1.3T package would be the one to eventually pass Congress. For reference, Biden and the Democrats are pushing for a $1.9T stimulus package whilst 10 moderate Senate Republicans have made the offer to pass a $618B package (which Biden and the Democrats say is much too small). Either way, a healthy dose of stimulus is on the way and will boost the US economic (and crude oil demand) recovery. Thirdly, crude oil was also boosted by another bullish inventory report…

Bullish inventory report

WTI saw significant upside in wake of a bullish week EIA crude oil inventory report; as indicated might be the case by Tuesday’s weekly private API inventory release, headline EIA crude oil stocks saw a surprise draw of 994K barrels versus expectations for a 446K build. Last week’s drop saw aggregate US crude oil stockpiles drop to 475.7M barrels, its lowest level since March 2020.

Cushing stocks also dwindled by 1.517M barrels. Gasoline inventories, however, saw a much larger than expected build of 4.466M (expectations were for a build of 1.134M), but this was not enough to take the bullish edge off of the report. The drop in headline crude oil stocks, combined with a pick up in the weekly refinery utilisation rate (up 0.6% WoW) points to a demand recovery, argued market commentators.

WTI key levels