Oil prices were little changed today but on track for their fourth week of losses in a row after tumbling about 5% to a four month-low yesterday on worries over global demand.
Brent futures edged up seven cents, or 0.1%, to $77.49 a barrel in early trade. US West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) was at $72.96, up six cents, or 0.1%.
Both have lost around a sixth of their value over the last four weeks.
“Oil prices are down slightly this year despite demand exceeding our optimistic expectations,” Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note.
“Non-core OPEC supply has been much stronger than expected, partly offset by OPEC cuts.”
Prompt monthly spreads for both contracts have flipped to contango, a market trend where prompt prices are lower than those in future months indicating healthy supply.
Oil’s decline this week was mainly triggered by a steep rise in US crude inventories and production sustaining at record levels, which analysts say triggered concerns of weak demand in the world’s largest oil consumer amid high output.
JPMorgan commodities research said today its global oil demand tracker showed demand averaged 101.6 million barrels a day (bpd) in the first half of November, running 200,000 bpd lower than its projection for the month.
Analysts said that the recent drop in prices is also likely to make Saudi Arabia extend its additional voluntary oil output cut of 1 million bpd into 2024.
“It has become clearer that the oil balance for the remainder of this year is not as tight as initially expected,” ING analysts said in a note.
“As things stand, the market is still expected to return to surplus in the first quarter of 2024,” it added.
A rollover of additional Saudi supply cuts into early 2024 should help erase the expected surplus and provide some support to the market, ING said.