Oil prices fell today with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate falling 1.29% to $50.64 a barrel and international benchmark Brent crude down 1.11% to $56.31 a barrel. Oil prices were even lower in the early going with West Texas Intermediate touching $50.23 a barrel at 9:56 a.m. New York time and then $50.19 at 12:50 p.m.
The early negative move was a result of a bearish outlook on oil demand in 2018 from the International Energy Agency. Demand for OPEC oil would be 32.5 million barrels per day in 2018–about 150,000 barrels per day below OPEC’s output in September. That forecast will put pressure on OPEC to increase its production cuts when the current agreement expires at the end of March 2018.
Oil moved higher from those early lo on a repot from the U.S. Energy Information Agency showed that U.S. inventories fell by 2.7 million barrels in the week ended October 6. Oil analysts were looking for a draw down of 2 million barrels.
After the International Energy Agency forecast Goldman Sachs told clients that it expects to see Brent crude average $58 a barrel in 2018. The bank said it sees the peak in draw downs from oil inventories occurring in the third quarter of 2017.
The weakness in the energy sector helped move the entire U.S. market modestly lower with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index falling 0.17%. The energy sector has provided market leadership in the most recent stage of the rally as stocks have continued to rotate. If energy falters, traders will look for new leadership to come out of third quarter earnings season. So far–and it is very early–the chances that the financials will resume their leadership role don’t look all that good. Today Citigroup (C) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) both reported third quarter earnings–the first of the big U.S. banks to do so–and despite beating Wall Street projections both stocks fell with Citigroup down 3.4% for the day and JPMorgan Chase off 0.9%. The problem for both stocks was a big drop (again) in trading revenue, down 16% at Citigroup and 21% at JPMorgan from the third quarter of 2016. That doesn’t bode well for reports tomorrow from Wells Fargo (WFC) and Bank of America (BAC).