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Crude oil futures higher amid US stock draw, OPEC meet

Singapore — Crude oil futures were higher during mid-morning trade in Asia Wednesday, garnering support from US crude stock draw last week while skepticism remained on demand and geopolitical-related concerns.

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At 10:10 am in Singapore (0210 GMT), ICE Brent November futures moved 29 cents/b (0.46%) higher from Tuesday's settle at $62.67/b, while the NYMEX October light sweet crude futures contract was up 35 cents/b (0.61%) at $57.75/b.

US crude stocks for the week ended September 6 were down 7.3 million barrels, according to analysts' reports quoting data released by the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday. Analysts surveyed Monday by S&P Global Platts were looking for US crude stocks for the same period to have declined by 3.6 million barrels.

The bullish US crude stocks data provided some relief to prices which have been pressured by global demand and growth woes, while market participants were looking out for more definitive numbers from the US Energy Information Administration due for release later Wednesday.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the EIA cut its outlook for 2019 global oil demand growth by 100,000 b/d to 890,000 b/d, which would put it below 1 million b/d for the first time since 2011.

Weaker demand and recent market movements pushed EIA to lower its oil price forecast in its latest short-term energy outlook. The EIA now sees Brent crude averaging $63.39/b in 2019 and $62/b in 2020, down $1.76/b and $3/b, respectively, from last month's outlook.

Elsewhere, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that he fired National Security Advisor John Bolton, opening the possibility that sanctions on Iran might be eased.

"I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House," Trump said on Twitter. "I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning."

"John Bolton was a known hawk on Iran and had been the driving force behind the US exiting the Iran nuclear deal and subsequent sanctions against the oil producers," said ANZ analysts in a note Wednesday.

Market participants will also be watching out for developments ahead of OPEC's Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee to be held at Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

"The short-term uptrend for crude oil prices will be one to watch with the OPEC monthly meeting and also the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee thereafter," said Pan Jingyi, IG market strategist.

"As it is, the driver for crude oil prices remains one of a demand story and further upsides may require the likes of sustained improvement in geopolitical issues," she added.

As of 0210 GMT, the US Dollar Index was up 0.21% at 98.34.

--Avantika Ramesh, avantika.ramesh@spglobal.com

--Edited by Nurul Darni, nurul.indriani.darni@spglobal.com