Crude-oil prices rebounded in early Asia trade Thursday, tracking the rally in most Asian stock markets after Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled more openness to foreign investments during his visit to the U.S.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in November CLX5, +0.99% traded at $44.83 a barrel, up $0.35 in the Globex electronic session. November Brent crude LCOX5, +0.80% on London’s ICE Futures exchange rose $0.31 to $48.06 a barrel. Nymex futures are down 9.6% month-to-date while Brent is 11.8% lower in the same period.
Asian shares mostly swung higher. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 XJO, +1.47% was up 1%, after hitting a two-year low on Wednesday. The Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +0.86% gained 0.8% and South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.5%, while the Nikkei Stock Average was 2.1% lower as trading resumed after a three-day holiday.
Despite the rise in Asia trade, oil prices settled sharply lower on Wall Street overnight after investors were unimpressed by the decline in U.S. crude-oil stockpiles last week.
Official data released by the Department of Energy late Wednesday indicated U.S. inventories dropped 1.9 million barrels last week, compared with the 100,000-barrel draw estimated by analysts. However, the drop was smaller than the 3.7-million drop reported by the American Petroleum Institute and the 4.3-million barrel decline in the same week of 2014, Citi Futures said in a note.
Speaking at a dinner in Seattle on Tuesday, Xi pledged to push ahead with economic reforms without resorting to competitive currency devaluation. He also emphasized China’s willingness to usher in more foreign investments.
The remarks came amid growing concerns that the world’s second-biggest economy and crude importer is losing steam. On Wednesday, the preliminary China Caixin manufacturing purchase managers’ index felled to a six-and-half-year low of 47.0 in September.
“[Xi’s remarks] offered some positive sentiment but the fundamental is still weak as oversupply remains worrisome,” said Vyanne Lai, an analyst at National Australia Bank.
Excessive output and expanding inventories have many market observers predicting a “lower for longer” scenario, saying the likely resumption of Iranian oil into the market will further upset the balance.
“We maintain our below-consensus forecast for both grades in 2016 and 2017, as major supply additions in West Africa, North America, the North Sea and the Middle East will continue to outpace the growth in demand, contributing to a rising overhang of crude in the market,” said BMI Research.