Crude oil benchmarks are up sharply this morning thanks to protests in Iran over the weekend. Yesterday, anti-government protestors staged rallies for a fourth day, defying the Iranian leadership. According to Reuters, protestors attacked police stations while video footage showed intense clashes in the town of Qahderijan. Given crude oil's sensitivity to political tensions in the Middle East, both WTI and Brent are rallying today. Beyond protests in Iran, the commodity has been supported by falling global inventories, strong demand from China and OPEC's supply cuts in recent history. While one-off events such as the shutdown of the Forties pipeline or the recent pipeline outage in Libya lend short-term support, the crude oil rally is fundamentally supported by demand growth running ahead of supply growth. Note that crude oil is starting to look overbought on both daily and weekly charts. Our short-term and medium-term trending indicators remain bullish.
WTI is currently trading above $60.50. Brent crude is currently above $66.90.
Looking at US crude oil stocks, the most recent EIA figures (December 28) showed falling crude oil stocks and rising gasoline inventories. Crude oil inventories were lower than estimates (-4.6m vs. -4m expected). Gasoline stocks were up (+0.6m vs. +1.5m expected) while distillate stocks (+1.1m vs. -0.8m expected) were lower. Looking at reactions in markets, crude oil prices were mixed following the EIA report.